Friday, December 20, 2013

Global Animal Health – What can you do?

There are many global animal health issues, but one that begs for the attention to any pet owner relates to dogs and rabies.  Herein the US, we have become so accustomed to pet ownership being associated with rabies vaccination, that we no longer remember a time when it was not.  Rabies is a virus which attacks the nervous system and is 100% fatal.  In the past century, human deaths associated with rabies in the US have declined from 100 deaths per year to only 2-3 per year.  This has been largely attributed to vaccination programs and animal controls established in the 1940’s, oral vaccinations introduced in the 2000’s, and the development of human rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins to prevent infection.   In this country we can safely say that the domestic dog is no longer a reservoir for this disease. [1]

In other parts of the world, particularly South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, people, and dogs, are not so lucky.  It is reported that there are 50,000-60,000 deaths per year attributed globally to rabies, most occurring in these two regions.  Many of these deaths are young boys, because they are often the care givers of the domesticated dogs, and will get bitten on the head or face where the virus can spread quickly to the central nervous system before human vaccines can be administered.  Dr. Guy Palmer, and a group of veterinarians working at Washington State University have begun a new program called the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.  One of their projects currently is to make rabies vaccination of domesticated dogs available, and sustainable, in these communities.  Their research has shown that if we can vaccinate just 60% of the domesticated dog population, we can essentially eliminate rabies outbreaks in a community.   And if we can move outward from a controlled population, we can widen the area of control quickly and efficiently.  The surprise to researchers has been the willingness and eagerness with which the human guardians of these dogs line up for vaccinations.  The will is clearly present.

But the cost for vaccination programs is reliant on donor support.  The hope is to develop more heat tolerant vaccines (keeping vaccines cool adds nearly $1/vaccine to the cost), and minimize transportation costs by being able to store vaccines on site.  These changes will markedly reduce costs and allow programs to become self-sustaining in the future.[2]  Their research efforts, as well as vaccination programs, are helping to change the course of this devastating disease, while strengthening the bond between canines and humans.  
Please join us in supporting their efforts this year.  This is a program with tangible results that will save both human and animal lives.  You can make a donation the next time you are in our hospital, or online at

Thank you for taking time to consider how we at home, can still make a difference, and make the planet safer for people and their dogs.  Happy Holidays!

The Staff and Doctors at Hatton Veterinary Hospital

Monday, December 09, 2013


9 am: there is a rush in the door.  “My dog has been shot with a paintball gun!”  Blood was streaming slowly from her face as Reyna, a 66 lb. Staffordshire Terrier, is carried in by her emotional and worried owner.  “She had been inside, the garage door had been shut, I was doing target practice, I don’t know how she got out…”  Reyna’s owner was beside himself, and seeing his dog like this, he could hardly speak.  Reyna was calm and as sweet as could be.  But we knew we had to do something. Her eye had apparently taken the paintball squarely across her cornea.  The blood was thick and it was difficult to discern where normal tissue, if any, still remained.  Reyna was so calm. We put a numbing agent in her eye and tried to apply a cold compress to slow the bleeding and swelling down while we got more information.  Her gums were nice and pink still, and her heart sounded normal.  Reyna had to have a headache but she was calm and let us examine her.  We got permission to give her some pain relief and identified that the top layer of the cornea, the protective layer on the surface of her eye, seemed to be torn.  It was unlikely we could save the eye.  Colored paint adorned her face.  It was now clear to all of us why goggles and other protective head gear are important…

Soon Reyna was resting more comfortably and the bleeding subsided.  She went into surgery shortly after that and her eye was enucleated (removed).  This was the only reasonable choice, both from a financial and a humane standpoint, to minimize her trauma and get her back to her normal happy life as quickly as possible. 
Two weeks later, Reyna is a happy dog again! Despite having spent two weeks in an E-collar, she is wagging her tail and getting around as if nothing had happened.  The forgiveness and unconditional love of a dog is truly remarkable.  The love of a family that had to find the unexpected funds to take care of her accident is also remarkable.  We must be careful out there, even when we are just having fun!