Cotswold Pets:

Joe Inglis on cop­ing with a res­cue pet

Cotswold Life - - NEWS - Joe Inglis con­tact @joethevet

Tak­ing on a new pet from an an­i­mal res­cue cen­tre can be a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially if the an­i­mal has health prob­lems. At the surgery in Carter­ton where I worked for many years, we saw lots of re-homed cats and dogs from the lo­cal Blue Cross char­ity cen­tre, and help­ing new own­ers cope with the chal­lenges th­ese new pets pre­sented was a ma­jor part of my job.

The most com­mon prob­lems seen in re-homed pets are be­havioural ones. Ag­gres­sive, dis­obe­di­ent and anti-so­cial an­i­mals of­ten end up in res­cue cen­tres and present a real chal­lenge for both the staff at the res­cue cen­tres, and their new own­ers. Of­ten th­ese prob­lems stem from the way the an­i­mals were treated as young an­i­mals - in some cases they have been phys­i­cally abused by their orig­i­nal own­ers, but in many in­stances it’s just a lack of proper knowl­edge of how to train a pet which leads to the be­havioural prob­lems. It’s tragic how many an­i­mals end up with se­ri­ous be­havioural prob­lems just through a lack of un­der­stand­ing on the part of their own­ers.

Thank­fully, there are lots of peo­ple will­ing to try and pick up the pieces and help th­ese an­i­mals, and in most cases, a good home, with backup from the vet, is all th­ese pets need. The ma­jor­ity of re-homed pets I’ve dealt with have end up set­tling in to their new homes very well, and gen­er­ally they over­come their be­havioural prob­lems and be­come happy and well-be­haved pets. Of course, that’s not al­ways the case – there are al­ways some an­i­mals where their prob­lems are too se­vere to be eas­ily over­come - but in most cases, with a bit of ad­vice, and per­se­ver­ance, new own­ers can turn around the lives of many of th­ese pets.

It’s not just be­havioural prob­lems that res­cue pets have to deal with though. Many aban­doned an­i­mals or badly treated pets have phys­i­cal prob­lems as well. The most com­mon prob­lems in­clude those re­lated to mal­nour­ish­ment, lack of par­a­site treat­ment, and un-di­ag­nosed or un-treated health prob­lems such as ear in­fec­tions, arthri­tis and heart prob­lems. Every now and then I’ve been faced with re­ally se­ri­ous cases, where an­i­mals have been left without food for weeks, or left to suf­fer eas­ily treat­able dis­eases for months or even years.

I re­mem­ber deal­ing with one par­tic­u­lar res­cue pet who had some nasty prob­lems to over­come. He was an el­derly Bas­set hound called Fred (of course!), and his new owner brought him straight down to the surgery when he brought him home from the Blue Cross cen­tre. My first im­pres­sion was that Fred had had a hard life; his skin was a mess of old le­sions and in­fec­tions, his ears had ob­vi­ously been in­fected for much of his life, and he was as thin as a rake. When I ex­am­ined him more closely, I found a few other more se­ri­ous prob­lems as well – he had signs of fox mange on his flanks, and was scratch­ing fu­ri­ously when­ever he got the chance, and he also had a large, painful swelling on the base of his tail.

The swelling turned out to be an ab­scess which had been brew­ing for many months from the look of it, and the re­lief on Fred’s face (and dis­gust on his owner’s) when I lanced the swelling was ob­vi­ous. Thank­fully it set­tled down well with an­tibi­otics, and the fox mange also re­sponded well to treat­ment as did his ears.

Within just a few months, th­ese sim­ple treat­ments, along with plenty of TLC from his new own­ers, trans­formed Fred into a dif­fer­ent dog – so much so that I failed to recog­nise him when he came in for a check-up later that year! It was just a shame that he’d had to en­dure years of ill treat­ment be­fore find­ing a lov­ing owner to care for him prop­erly.

So, if you are think­ing about get­ting a new pet, re­mem­ber that there are thou­sands of won­der­ful an­i­mals like Fred wait­ing in res­cue cen­tres up and down the coun­try just wait­ing for a kind, re­spon­si­ble new owner – like you!

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