When we first saw her, she was in the words of our vet: “moments from death.”
Little more than a skeleton, she lay in the grass at the side of a path, her tiny chest moving with each laboured breath. I’ve honestly never seen an animal that close to death and it was heartbreaking.
Our vet Dr. Naritsorn Pholpherm immediately began palpating her body and trying to determine how to save her. He said she was severely dehydrated, malnourished and could not lift her head.
Dr. Pholperm said the priority was getting her hydrated as she stood no chance of recovering nor was her body in a state where she could metabolise medicine. He began helping her by injecting her with glucose and then gave her water with a syringe. She lapped it up and you could see with each mouthful and as the glucose took effect, the life coming back into her eyes. Her tail began wagging but you could see the exertion even that happy gesture caused her.
The puppy eagerly drinks water given by syringe. © World Animal Protection
Her owner, Valia walked over and explained she had been ill for more than a week after eating what he suspected was a poisonous fish washed up after Cyclone Pam. He said she had stopped eating “many days” before and stopped drinking yesterday. He had clearly given up any hope for her and seeing her wretched state, on an island without regular access to veterinary care, it was easy to see why.
Valia looks on as Dr. Naritsorn Pholperm treats the little pup. © World Animal Protection
Before we left her, we carried her into a shaded area within Valia’s compound and made her a comfortable bed. We gave Valia glucose and the syringe to feed her and instructed him on how to give her water at regular intervals. We also promised to return the following morning to treat what we suspected was pneumonia, contracted by lying in the moist, humid grass where she was unable to lift her head.
Dr. Pholperm, assisted by Steven Clegg carries the puppy to a better environment for a much-hoped-for recovery. © World Animal Protection
While it was so painful for all of us to see her suffering, we left somewhat reassured that she had a better chance of survival, was more comfortable and her owner now knew how to help her.
I’ll be sure to update you about our return to check on the puppy.