Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Struggle To Save More Dogs From Distemper Continues


For awhile all is quiet and then suddenly the mortal combat between life and death starts anew; in Indonesia a puppy fights for its life, its owner frightened and trying desperately to keep it from fading away.

Then two more emergencies pop up; one in Houston, Texas, and another in California. They all need swift and decisive action in an arena filled with doubt and trepidation, where most vets would sooner see a dog die than to undertake the rare treatment that might save its life. Technical assistance is often too little, too late when there are not enough NDV-knowledgeable vets to go around, and with multiple time-zones, all too often these dogs and their owners fall through the cracks.

In these crucial hours is where the rubber meets the road, courage is tested, and so is faith. It is at such a time when one really finds out what his/her own vet is made of. Will he or she have what it takes to follow written instructions in the absence of the man who wrote them, or will this person who is to administer the treatment buckle under the strain like a chance passer-by, a stranger faced with delivering a newborn baby on a New York subway?

I remember this well. It was just a few short months ago when I was fighting for Carmella's life this way. Now other dogs are embarking upon the same perilous journey and their owners stepping out and hoping their foot comes down on solid ground; following leads, sending e-mails, and making phone calls in hopes that they can patch together enough resources to get across the finish line.

Due to the amount of flash on Dr. Sears' website, people seem to be having difficulty posting there and sometimes accessing it at all. It is still under construction. I have e-mailed him regarding some of these emergencies but have been unable to get a hold of him for the past few days. With Distemper each day and in some instances each hour is crucial while a dog owner tries to mobilize the support and practical help he/she needs. It is quite literally a race against the clock.

Not too long ago we lost one in the fight against Distemper. This is tragic because each one of these is a dog that somebody loved. Often in was because they just couldn't reach the right help soon enough. Some of these owners give up, thinking it's just too difficult, and the odds of finding a vet who can do what is needed just too low.

We need to change that!

Never again should a dog have to die because the cure comes too late!

Part of this outcome can be changed by all the owners out there who get their dog treated and then disappear into anonymity. All of you whose dogs have been treated are resources, and your vet can prevent another dog from becoming a statistic.

A database and a network of survivors who come back to help the ones who come after is badly needed. If your dog has been successfully treated with NDV please let us know your vet's contact information so that we can add it to the list and don't drop out of contact. We need to know your dog's progress as it heals.

Too many people stop trying because there are so many roadblocks. I recently read a post on one of the pet forums where somebody wrote that all they were able to find in the way of success stories were the same few dogs and that this discouraged them because they assumed that this was all there were out there in the entire world.

That is not the case!

The problem, again, is that too many after they get the treatment and their dog is out of the woods go away and never come back to tell their stories. There are many out there but finding them and bringing that data together has been hard. We absolutely must work together to make this treatment accessible to other dogs. Success stories are very important.

I run across blogs every so often in which it is mentioned that a dog was treated with NDV (sometimes even Blogspot blogs) but then that seems to be the end of the documentation. Once the crisis is over people go back to their jobs, their children, playing golf on Sundays, or posting about the latest musical artist on Myspace. Perhaps some of this is to be expected, but those of us whose dogs have beaten this deadly disease owe it to the others to make our experiences count for somebody other than just ourselves and our families.

We must carry the flame and pass on this legacy, paving the way for the next group of warriors against the disease. If we are doing this correctly then the trails we blazed will not have to be re-visited upon the next ones afflicted. As the numbers grow and the proof continues to be documented it will get easier for dogs to be treated sooner and thus suffer little or no permanent damage because of long waits.

It still bothers me that Carmella had to develop brain damage causing this myoclonic jerking before we could get someone to treat her Central Nervous System. She is alive today but bears a constant reminder that her silent screams and mine (not so silent) fell on deaf ears for way too long.

All the time wasted on certain vets' silly academic arguments about whether or not this treatment was legitimate enough because it wasn't written in medical journals while Carmella was left to languish.

All the times I begged for them to help her, saying "She's getting worse. She's getting worse! Do something!" and they refused, standing like so many deer in the headlights with hands behind their backs.

It still remains to be seen as to whether the damage is permanent, but it may well be. Had she gotten the help she needed only weeks before she would not have any remnants at all.

We can't turn back the clock now, but we can prevent it happening to others. If you have animals tell your vets about this treatment, about Dr. Sears and about the dogs who are still suffering and dying from Distemper. Tell them that now there is a cure and all they need to do is use it. There is no time to waste. If a dog comes in with Distemper use it NOW! Not next week, not in a month, not in six months. Every day one waits can result in more lost myelin.

Distemper causes brain damage, disability, it is crippling, and it kills!

NDV works. It is as simple as that. Leave the point/counter point to the university pontifs to argue, and go ahead and treat. Vets who see these animals have a duty to do everything in their power to help them no matter where it comes from, no matter how it was discovered.

Vets, like the owners also need to network and pass on their positive results to their colleagues and they need to partner with us in writing papers and documenting the medical miracles that come into their practice, and start speaking at conferences about it. Don't assume that somebody else will do it.

We would love to have some open-minded vets join who are interested in being part of the solution!

2 comments:

kim* said...

carmella you are a beauty

TheresaJ said...

Carmella is looking really great. I've just finished catching up on all of the Carmella news and I just purchased a TopSpot add, although it hasn't shown up yet. I hope things continue to go well for you and Carmella and hope that you have success in putting together your anti-Distemper network in getting the word out. Yes, you are tenacious! :)