6.30am start today as we travelled to the nearest vet hospital in Sai Yok, a 4 hour drive away. Situated about 50km west of Kanchanaburi, Sai Yok is classified as a Wildlife and Livestock Hospital which also treats household pets and street dogs.
The patients that we took with us, and the reasons why we felt that they had to have professional medical attention, are as follows:
‘Bottom’ - has been showing signs of TVT (cancer of the vulva) however, it is questionable whether this is TVT or a severe wound that has become inflamed and infected. Accurate tests are needed to determine the cause.
‘Waterbelly’ – first described to us by his owner as a ‘fat thin dog’, is exactly that. A very peculiar looking canine, he is skinny, with bones protruding along his spine and at his hips, yet has an enlarged belly, filled with water. When taken to the vets a couple of weeks ago, his stomach was drained and he was given some liver supplements. Now the medication has run out and he is back to the size he was before. We are worried as it seems we are treating the symptoms rather than the cause.
‘Sis’ – is the sister of a puppy we treated a few weeks ago for a hernia (we called him ‘Hernie’). We believe ‘Sis’ has a broken leg following a road collision.
‘Annie’ – a cat that was brought into the sanctuary 2 days ago. She has the whitest gums that Gemma and I have ever seen, she is called Annie because we think she is anaemic, she also has trouble eating and often drools when we syringe feed her. Hopefully the vet can tell us what is causing this.
Unfortunately, it seems to be very difficult to make an appointment with Sai Yok animal hospital, whenever we tried to do so the phone just rang unanswered. Therefore, there was no alternative but to set off as early as we could and wait for hours at the hospital until all of our animals were treated.
We arrived in Sai Yok at about 10.30am. Just past midday, the first of our animals was seen. ‘Bottom’ was examined and a swab taken from the infected area to determine whether she had TVT. She is obviously very disturbed and uncomfortable as she keeps licking the area. A couple of maggots fell out during the examination also.
‘Sis’ was next. She was sent for an x-ray which showed that she does have a break, however, it is near the joint and so the vets are hesitant to put pins in it. Without giving any pain relief (which Gemma and I could not believe, and see no reason for) they attempted to manipulate the bone back into place and then wrapped it with a soft bandage. We have to repeat the process ourselves every day in an attempt to re-align the bone. Needless to say, we shall be giving the puppy pain relief to make the experience as least distressing as possible.
Waterbelly’s stomach was syringed again, and the vets seem certain that it is his liver which is causing the problem. We were given liver supplements, doxycycline and iron medication, yet this is frustrating as, again, it seems that they are intent on treating the symptoms rather than the cause.
Lunch was drawing near, and the staff were eager to go have their food, and so we were asked to come back later when they will take a look at Annie the cat. As we had to go to Kanchanaburi to get vet supplies (syringes, needles, medication etc.) and dog food anyways, we decided to do our errands there and come back.
Kanchanaburi (most people would know it as the setting for the historical building of The Bridge Over the River Kwai) is about 45 minutes from Sai Yok. We managed to get most of what we needed whilst we were there and returned to the vet a couple of hours later.
Although they knew that we were coming back and there seemed to be only 4 other people waiting to be seen at the hospital, we were kept waiting for 2 and a half hours for what seemed like minimal diagnosis. Bottom’s results came back and she doesn’t have TVT, it is just a very oddly placed wound and therefore needs cleaning every day.
Annie the cat has leukaemia. They gave us some medicine for her, but it seems like the kind of situation that will prolong her life rather than cure the affliction itself. She is very sick, doesn’t seem to take down her food properly and now the question, is how long can she survive in her current condition before the pain gets too serious for her? None of us want to play ‘God’, but we’ll keep a close eye on this kitty to monitor her progress.
Leaving Sai Yok at 4.30pm 11,000 Thai Baht lighter, we arrived back in Sangklaburi at 8.30pm. Swiftly, we unloaded the truck of animals and supplies and then drove to see one of our usual patients, 'The Vole' who we are treating following an attack from a cat.
Still, our day was not over as we had to administer the usual meds to our patients back at the sanctuary and then, finally, feed the Street Dogs (SDs).
It has been an incredibly long day, as well as a frustrating one. Gemma and I are very excited that we have a volunteer vet arriving next week. Even though it will still be necessary to visit Sai Yok for certain cases – for example, they have equipment such as an x-ray machine which we do not – it will be a comfort to receive some professional medical advice from a source much closer to the animal sanctuary, rather than having to make the 8 hour round trip and coming back sometimes with what seems like some very unsatisfying results.