BEAUFORT, SC.....On Friday we got a call from Beaufort County Animal Control about three 14 day old puppies with Cleft Palates. A cleft palate is an opening between the mouth and nose which occurs when the tissues forming the palate do not fuse properly. Puppies with this abnormality have a difficult time nursing.
Animal Control was contacted when seven of the ten puppies had already died. The Owner did not know how to take care of them and went to the vet with the remaining three puppies. He said it was best to put them down, which is why she called Animal Control. The objective with Cleft Palate puppies is to supply nutritional support until the puppy is old enough and healthy enough to survive surgery to repair the defect.
We wanted to give the puppies a chance which is why we had them taken to CVRC in Charleston. We knew how difficult and expensive it was going to be to save these puppies, but we wanted to try. Right after they arrived, we lost one of the puppies, and the other two were also critical. They were immediately put in ICU and stabilized. Newborns need to be fed every three hours. They have to have a tiny tube inserted down their throat that goes into the stomach. They are then fed through the tube with a syringe which is removed after each feeding every three hours.
The problem with these innocent tiny Angels is it is effortless for them to aspirate food into their lungs. You have to be very precise where the tube is inserted. Puppies will begin to swallow the tube as it is inserted very slowly. The tube has to be marked where the stomach would end, so you do not insert the tube too far or not enough. You measure from the last rib to the mouth and mark it on the tube. That is where you would stop inserting the tube and slowly syringe feed.
It all sounds pretty simple, but it is not. You have to be very dedicated for quite a long time to these innocent Souls and not rush any of the feedings or give too much. Sadly, by the time we were notified, the puppies had not been fed and were trying to suckle on the Mom and ended up aspirating. By the second day in ICU, our second pup had passed away. We now had one puppy left that was doing well named Achilles.
Dr. Torres had taken over his care and decided it was best to put in a Naso-Gastro tube to help with the feedings. He used an x-ray to help him guide the tube to the exact spot in the stomach and tacked the tube down. Our little bundle was kept warm, fed every three hours, and was monitored constantly for any signs of distress. Achilles was finally able to relax and sleep and was doing well. None of the puppies eyes had opened, so touch and soothing sounds were essential to his well-being.
Late last night, Achilles began to show signs of Pneumonia. An x-ray showed his lungs were malformed, and he was on his way to having Pneumonia. He was treated and began to improve during the night. Sadly, this morning, his breathing became too difficult for me to continue his care. We had done all we could to give him the best Quality of Life, but that changed when he began to struggle. I knew we had to help him cross over. Very peacefully, Achilles crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and was greeted by nine of his siblings that had crossed over before him.
I believe every creature deserves a chance if Quality of Life is at the forefront of your mindset. When Quality of Life is not there, it is time to say Good-Bye in the most loving way. If I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing and give these beautiful Angels the same opportunity. I have saved some and have lost some. Each time, I learn more about what it takes to save them. I believe our results would have been better if they did not arrive after they had each aspirated.
No one knows why animals are born with Cleft Palates. Genetics is considered the leading cause of this problem but nutritional deficiencies, viruses, and poisons that affect the mother during pregnancy also increase the risk of cleft palates. It is one of Life's Mysteries that teaches us to love and nurture the abnormal and disfigured. Life is not about being perfect in someone else's eyes. Each one of our pups is marred and abnormal, and in our eyes, they are Perfect in every way.
Whatever you believe, God or the Universe gives us Gifts of pure Joy in the form of these innocent Souls. Unconditional Love is all they want or need to survive, and unconditional Love is what they need when the time comes to say Good-Bye and get their Angel Wings. Tonight when you look up into the Night Sky, look for ten bright stars moving across the Heavens. Achilles and his Siblings have their golden Angel Wings and are whole.
We have thousands of dollars of Medical Care into saving these tiny puppies. We didn't get the results we wanted, but we did give them the only opportunity they had to survive. These puppies knew Love and Compassion before they passed. I believe Cleft Palate puppies should be given a chance and not immediately euthanized. Please, Donate toward their Medical Cost so we can help more pups like Achilles live long enough to have the surgery they would need to live a long Normal Life.