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Report from Katy, TX:

More rescuers working to save dogs

Efforts to save scores of Labrador Retrievers rescued Aug. 15 are centered in Leander, TX (north of Austin) and at the Katy, TX home of Doug and Anne McGuire, northwest of Houston. The McGuires, who are Golden Retriever breeders, turned over the runs at their new home for emergency care of the Labs. This report was sent by Doug McGuire to a Golden Retriever e-mail list and is used with his permission. The dogs on which he is reporting have now been moved to the central Lab rescue facility north of Austin

I'm a little overwhelmed here. Or more than a little. The second triage began four hours ago and is just winding down. The worst of the dehydration cases (side effect of the diarrhea) got IV fluids, and they seem yet a bit more chipper. But one is so gaunt and emaciated that we're having trouble getting anything to stay down. I'm worried about him. Sweet fellow we're calling Baron because he seems so dignified among the chaos and sickness. I'm really worried about Jed. He's the oldest of the group, yellow male around 9-10 years old. He just sleeps. Advanced heartworm case, very bad murmur.

The sun was setting when they got here. Five vans and pickups with crates and crates of Labs rolled in in a caravan. They were met by about 20 volunteers from all over the Houston area who had arrived earlier to get set up and ready. Then the real fun began.

By now, you've read the basics of the situation described by Rick Fish. The rescue started out with 82 dogs. As the caravan was heading our way, Rick was hauling 14 dogs to Austin in his big dog truck.

Twenty dogs were brought to our place, something like 13 blacks and 7 yellows. They range in age from about a year to about 7 or 8 years. None are in very good shape. They were left basically unattended for something like 2 months - God only knows where they got any food. From the marks on their faces, it's clear that they fought among themselves for what little food there was. The nursing mom with the dead whelps was featured prominently in the early local news stories.

Even after having done something like this before, it was a numbing experience. Fleas and ticks were just the start. Two dogs were so dehydrated that we had to coax water and pedialyte into them a syringe-full at a time; they seem to be doing better this morning. Five or 6 are advanced heartworm cases that may not survive long enough to get enough weight back on them to go through treatment; you didn't need a stethoscope to hear the whooshing murmurs caused by the masses of worms in their hearts. One has something on his toe that the vet tech who did the triage thinks might be cancer. At least two of the bitches are pregnant.

One yellow male is so anemic he is as pale as Jasper ever was during his illness; we couldn't even get a blood draw from him for the heartworm test, although the answer is already clear. Most of them are walking skeletons. All are scarred and cut from fighting for their food. Blowout diarrhea was the norm; a rare formed stool was cause for celebration. Dog people are wierd sometimes.

And these dogs are in pretty good shape compared to many of the rescuees. I can't imagine what the worst ones look like, or what they will need to pull through.

It was after 1 AM when we finally finished bathing, worming, and treating them. As exhausted as I was, sleep did not come easily. Their gaunt, scarred faces haunted me in the darkness.

They are not Goldens, but they are retrievers. This morning they greeted us with wagging tails and hopeful looks. Some are too exhausted to do much other than sleep, but the ones we worried most about all seem to be a little better. At least they've all eaten something - some were refusing food last night, even though it's obvious that they desperately need the calories.

As Rick said, something about a situation like this brings out the best in people. The rescue community in Houston came together to help. GSD rescue transported the dogs to us. Golden rescue people, along with folks from Aussie rescue and CAPS and other rescue groups showed up to help. They stayed until we were done, then some had long drives home. Dedicated, caring people made this possible. Without them, many of these dogs would have been put down in the (totally overwhelmed) animal shelter that took them in in the first place.

They are not Goldens but, as Anne said to me before they got here early on, there but for the grace of God go I. Next time it might be Goldens, but I know that we can count on the people in this area to help.

Doug McGuire
Katy, Texas

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