Animal Protection Society pleased with year's work

The Animal Protection Society (A.P.S.) has marked 2019 as one of the best years to date in terms of caring for the country's various pets.

Dr. Harriet Thornton of A.P.S. told the Samoa Observer that they have achieved this with community engagement activities as well as vaccinations all year round. 

“Generally speaking it’s better than when I first started here at A.P.S. a year and a half ago," she said. 

According to the veterinarian, the desexing rates, community engagement and vaccination rates for the animals are all very high this year, with a noticeable decrease in preventable diseases.

“We’re doing well with routine healthcare, it’s not just a case of seeing animals that are sick and animals that have been left until they’re really bad. We’re seeing people coming in with animals two or three weeks old to do regular preventative healthcare.”

She says that it’s definitely never smooth sailing with animals in Samoa, and that there are a few noticeable things that come to mind for the public in terms of the general care of animals. 

Parvovirus is still one of the common issues that Dr Thornton and her team see and that it is preventable with vaccines available at a price at their office.

“It’s just a case of seeing the importance. Though it may seem like a rather expensive outlay cost, will cost you more to have a dog with parvovirus, and at the end of it your pet may not be alive.”

CPV vaccines can prevent this infection and mortality can reach 91 per cent in untreated cases.

The other issue that APS still sees regularly is paraquat poisoning, which is a common herbicide used in gardens that is fatal to dogs. 

Dr Thornton said: “There’s always been the attitude that its deliberate poisoning, and there are people coming and saying ‘someones poisoned my dog’ and it’s become apparent that it’s not always the case, a lot of paraquat poisoning we’re seeing is accidental.”

She said people are using it to spray their compounds with, and with the rain and the runoff we end up with paraquat that the dogs ingest and an added visit to APS.

“Paraquat poisoning is fatal in basically every single case. There is no treatment and no antidote and it’s an unnecessary death.”

Other cases include desexing related fights, where dogs would be hit by cars chasing potential mates during mating season.

“The only way to prevent this is to desex your animals. We’re seeing a lot of animals in serious conditions because of dog fights, and it’s mostly preventable conditions.”

While the APS deals with animals that are brought in by owners, they also seek stray animals that are brought to their attention by the public.

Dr Thornton and APS say that while the Dog Management Unit (DMU) is responsible for the larger stray population, they also try to deal with some stray animals with serious medical problems, and put them in their re-homing program. 

“We take them in and we treat them when they are reported to us. We make sure they are healthy and treated before they go to a new home.” said Dr Thornton.

For those looking for a puppy this Christmas season, Dr Thornton says that dog lovers have just missed their last wave of puppies.

“They go out as fast as they come in. After we treat them, they’re gone the same day. But I suspect there will be more in the coming weeks because it is mating season.”

She suspects that by February next year there will be a cute new group of unwanted puppies ready to be cared for by APS and sent out to loving new owners.

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