EAST CENTRAL — It was thanks to preparation and quick thinking from North East SPCA (NESPCA) staff that a newborn puppy was saved at the Harry and Eve Vickar Shelter in Melfort.
On Jan. 25, a dog they were caring for, Brownie, began to go into labour. This wasn’t a shock to the staff, and they had planned accordingly.
“Being that she is younger and a first time momma, we wanted to be standing by just in case she needed us,” said Kristy Mason, shelter manager.
“We have cameras set up that we have linked to our phone, so even when we’re at home we would check frequently. We would give her an exam every day just to see how she’s doing, if there’s any problems, checking her temperature – just waiting to see the signs of her giving birth.”
When Brownie did go into labour, staff were ready with a sterile cart holding pads, gloves, and antiseptic spray.
The first puppy was already born and laying on the floor when they entered the room.
The second puppy was a little more complicated.
“We saw that she did have a ruptured hernia, so we got to her and momma had cleaned her off a bit,” Mason said. “We were able to kind of hold the hernia so it wasn’t rupturing out further and one of the kennel attendants called the vet and got them to come down right away.”
The hernia was caused by the umbilical cord getting ripped off the body, and as a result there was a hole in her belly with a risk to her internal organs.
Mason was no stranger to this type of emergency – having seen it with pigs in the past.
“Really most of my expertise is pigs giving birth,” she said. “We had a pretty good idea of how we could save it until the vets could come and fix her up.”
While it took the veterinarian only about five minutes to arrive, Mason described it as “years” while she had her fingers pressed against the injured puppy.
“I was pretty calm. We didn’t want to be panicked around momma because we wanted her to stay calm during her labour. Especially being a first time momma, a lot of times it’s very, very scary for them.”
“There’s just a hole in her belly, so then their intestines and that can come out of their body.”
Once arrived, the vet applied stitches to the puppy, and then three and a half hours after the start of Brownie’s birth and eight puppies later, staff could finally go home.
While it’s hard to gage a young puppy’s overall health, Mason said so far she’s recovering well, and was given the name “Hope”.
“She seems to be eating well and isn’t acting out of the normal, so we don’t think we have too much to worry about, but time will tell.”
Hope has joined her siblings as well as 11 other puppies under the shelter’s care – giving a grand total of 19 puppies.
This is the most the shelter has cared for at a single time.
While many details can’t be disclosed, the two litters that were surrendered earlier are the puppies of Brownie’s sisters and a shared father.
To the best of Mason’s knowledge they are all predominantly German Shepherd and husky mix.
“There’s probably a million other breeds in there, but that’s the prominent one you can see,” she said.
“All the puppies are pretty healthy and they all have some fun personalities – playful, very happy puppies.”
In response to the 19, the NESPCA has sent out a request for public donations toward medical care, as staff can foresee “extremely high veterinary bills on our horizon.”
“There are a lot of puppies to vaccinate and deworm and get their basic medical care done,” Mason said.
Donations can be made through an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Harry and Eve Vickar Shelter in person at Melfort.
Currently, the shelter has put a slowdown on taking surrenders unless it’s an emergency.
“If it’s not an emergency we ask that they can hold onto them a bit longer if they can, just to give us some time to get some animals adopted out.”
The newborn litter is estimated to be able to be ready for adoptions in about eight weeks.