Gabriel – a failed Christmas miracle.

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:59 pm by Jenn

This is Gabriel’s story.

Gabriel was surrendered to ACR&S shortly before the Christmas holiday.  It started with an email:

I have A guinea pig he is one and a half give or take. I got him for my daughter she is five now and She is severly allergic to him. She wasn’t at first but it keeps getting worse. I was wondering if you had room for one more because he is a very sweet guinea pig and it breaks my heart to have to give him up. But he doesnt get the attention he deserves here. I play with him when I can but its just not the same as it should be. Also about a month ago his hair fell out and he started to itch ALOT!!! so I got some anti itch spray and I sprayed him a couple times and he got better and his hair is staring to grow back. About a week ago he
was acting lathargic and drinking water like crazy I noticed he had a puddle of poo around him so I  started treating him for wet tail. He didn’t improve much so I took him to the vet. The vet said he might have ring worm or something else. And he gave me some medicine that he said might work.And It could be contagious to me. ( I know the ring worm is, but he was saying a parasite of some kind) Basically he didn’t know. I just want to be totally honest with you. I really wanted to find him a good home before he got sick, but I know you guys will take care of him even if he is sick.  You guys can hve his cage and everything I have to go with him I just bout him a new bag of food and treats. He has about a half a bag of bedding left and he loves oranges and apples. Every time you open the fridge he thinks he is supposed to get a treat too! I would really appreciate you concidering him as a rescue. Again he is very sweet
but we are just not the right family for him and he needs to be with some one who can play with him more and give the attention he should get.

It’s unfortunate, but we get several dozen emails like this every month.  “Hi, I have a sick animal, and he’s still sick, and can you take him?”  These animals cost us hundreds of dollars, and yet there are not really other options for them.  Most shelters are unaware of what needs to be done for them, or even how serious most of these problems are.  Often these animals have no other options, and often we are too soft-hearted to say no to them.

We were optimistic.  Hairloss and diarrhea, although not ideal, are fairly treatable, and are also fairly inexpensive.

We arranged for a pickup with his owner, but due to the last-minute nature of the exchange, our Charlotte coordinator was unable to complete the transport (the piggie himself was in SC).   The owner then refused to meet us when we could not meet her with literally 24 hours notice.  We sent out a call for any volunteers or former adopters in SC who were ready and willing to pick up a corner of the transport to please email us.  We were desperate.

And they responded in force!  We quickly had transportation agreements, kind people offering donations for gas money, and a cheering section rooting for this little lost pig.  2 days after the failed transport, our volunteers managed to meet with Gabriel’s owner and pick him up.  Brenda, one of our treasured SC operatives, called us nearly in tears.  “Please”, she begged, “can I take him to my emergency vet?  The vibrations of the car are causing him to have seizures over and over again!”  The “minor hair loss” we’d been told about was one of the worst case of mites we’d ever seen in a living animal.  We encouraged her to go straight to the emergency vet, where poor Gabriel was stabilized and given valium and pain medication to try and dull the agony of his broken body.

He then continued his trek northward, and ended up with Andrea.  She threw the kitchen sink at him — antibiotics, benadryl, Revolution, hand feeding, veggies, you name it.  She spent her nights by his cage, nursing him, trying to feed him, asking questions and contacting vets.  She held him while he seizured, and tried to clean off his poor damaged face (which started losing disturbing clumps of hair around his eyes).  He had support from all over the country being mailed in, and had developed quite a cheering section.

gabriel-faceOn December 27th, a few short days after his initial rescue, Gabriel laid down to sleep and didn’t get back up.  Although his condition had improved, he had too many odds stacked against him.  The mites, his poor husbandry prior to surrender, and possible poisoning from the use of over the counter medicine to treat him were too much.skinhunk

In Gabriel’s name, this is my plea:  demand better care from your vets.  Do not stand by while your animal dies.  Gabriel died from mites.  From a parasite treated with $5 worth of medication because his vet didn’t know any better and because his owner said nothing as his health spiraled downward.  Nobody looks at a pig like Gabriel and thinks that he is fine.  Nobody listens to an animal screaming in agony as it has convulsions and thinks that they’re ok.  According to Andrea, the first night, Gabriel would seizure and wail every five minutes, and could be heard all over her house.  She couldn’t sleep because of the noise.  Please, speak up.  You are your pet’s only advocate!  A death like this is not a quiet release, it is a bone agonzing descent into nothing but pain, until pain is all the animal knows.  And Gabriel suffered, alone, without even the benefit of pain medication.

So goodbye, Gabriel.  You were our failed Christmas miracle, but at least you didn’t die alone, and you got a measure of respite from the pain that you had been trapped in for so long.

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