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 labored 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 metabolize 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.
Her guardian, 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.
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.
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 guardian now knew how to help her.
Luckily, the young female puppy made it through the night with the help and care of her guardian and was sitting up when we arrived to check on her and give her more treatment.
Though unsteady on her front legs, she was able to keep herself upright and we gave her medications to treat pneumonia as well as more glucose and water.
It was such a relief to see her sitting upright and wagging her tail. She had trouble coordinating her movements and her head lagged behind what seemed like her clear intention to nuzzle Dr. Pholperm.
She was very vocal and made a kind of groaning whine. I noticed she was docile and relaxed while our vet cared for her but lifted her head as best she could towards him each time he reached for a new syringe of water or new treatment.
As he’d done the previous day, Steven Clegg, our manager of disaster operations in Asia Pacific stepped in and laid his hand on her, which seemed to relax her again. She just wanted some contact and care.
Her guardian Valia was very happy to see her coming back to health and told us he’d decided to name her “Pam.”
We dropped in twice again before leaving Epi Island, each time giving her a bit more treatment and care. I cannot promise Pam will live but I can promise you a very dedicated team of people who care for animals did our best to give her a chance both through immediate care and veterinary treatment as well as educating her guardian on how to help her. We will continue to check in on her and keep you updated on little Pam’s recovery as we continue to roll out aid to Epi in the near future.
Without your support, dogs like Pam would have no chance and would face long, lingering deaths from preventable conditions. And it isn’t just dogs. We’re helping as many animals as we can and only because of you can we help them survive the aftermath of this disaster.
This posts originally appeared on World Animal Protection’s Animals in Disasters blog.