When Spaying a Pregnant Dog in a Third World Country What Happens to the Puppies

April 13, 2011

Photo of Drs Patrick Mahaney and Jessica Vogelsang Amazon Cares Banner PeruOur second official day of clinical work with Amazon Cares brought its own set of unique challenges. The makeshift veterinary facility was the same, but today even more people showed up with their pets seeking wellness care.

Fortunately, our group was able to work more cohesively with each other and the local Amazon Cares veterinary staff. Therefore, the flow of patient intake, surgical preparation, and completion of procedures was smoother and we were able to get more accomplished.

From a standpoint of the surgical cases for which Dr V (Jessica Vogelsang, AKA Pawcurious) and I were responsible, both the number and technical challenge increased.

There is extraordinary canine overpopulation (cats, slight less so) and lack of routine medical services in Iquitos neighborhoods that are less well developed. As a result, many pets live much of their lives in an unhealthy fashion on the street and become sexually capable of producing offspring with remarkable regularity.

Photo of Dr Patrick Mahaney Pregnant Spay SurgeryYesterday, Dr V did a spay procedure on a pregnant cat with embryonic kittens. Today, I performed two spays on dogs having very well developed fetuses potentially capable of sustaining life outside of the womb if given a longer time to mature and be born.

Unfortunately for the puppies, there is an exceeding need for population control in Iquitos and the owner was unable to care for the newborns. They were humanely euthanized immediately after being removed from their mother’s abdomen.

Photo of Dr Patrick Mahane and Assistant June Allison Pregnant Spay Surgery

If the canine infants were born on the street, it is unlikely they would survive without human assistance. Even with help from people who adopt the puppies into their homes, scavenging is the main means dogs acquire nutrition, infectious diseases (mange, gastrointestinal parasites, etc) run rampant through the population, and the likelihood of trauma (hit by motor rickshaw or car, animal fights, etc) is extremely high.

Through the amazing work of Amazon Cares, pet owners in Peru receive free or low cost veterinary care. Many dogs and cats are sterilized and receive quality of life improving treatments that otherwise would be inaccessible or financially unattainable.

The ethical dilemma of having to terminate the pregnancies of female dogs put much stress on the entire volunteer team and we were grateful to return town for a late lunch at a place that reminded us of home, called Texas (even though I am from California). Our spirits were elevated by the restaurant’s truly tacky and entertaining entertaining decor, including some very amusing, hand painted signs.
Photo of When Celebrity Falls Sign Peru

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Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Thornton April 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM

don’t imagine that what you experienced is unique. My young children and I volunteered for P.A.W.S. in Tulsa, Oklahoma years ago and our then, probably 7 year old son, watched as a bitch was spay, the puppies in utero and the vet explained gently, that they would only add to the over population. They were euthanized. He completely understood, as did everyone in the room. We continued to work without any emotional angst. What we were doing was helping low income families be responsible for their pets and we commended them for it. By the way, that 7 year old was preparing and putting sterile packs in an autoclave (with assistance by a supervising adult)

Patrick Mahaney April 14, 2011 at 6:26 AM

Thank you for your reply Diane. I am sure that my experiences have been repeated by other veterinarians all over the world. Hopefully, we can make some positive changes via population control.

Dora Ponce October 15, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Thank you for all you do.

Patrick Mahaney October 15, 2011 at 9:29 AM

Thank you Dora. The animals out there need our help, which is why I am helping great organizations like Amazon CARES.
Feel free to communicate with me via email: patrick@patrickmahaney.com

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