Every spring, there is an inevitable increase in the volume of unwanted puppies and kittens entering our shelters. Though it is widely known that spaying and neutering saves lives, prevents suffering, and prolongs the life and health of our companion animals, there are still a great many people who either refuse the procedure or who do not have access to it at an affordable rate. So the cycle continues, year after year.
In mid-February, we were contacted about a pregnant pit bull in a KS shelter. Even under the best of circumstances, pregnancy and whelping are risky times in the lives of mother dogs and their offspring. But in shelters, the risk is even greater due to stress and the risk of disease exposure. Foster homes willing and able to provide care for litters of puppies are few and far between, but we are blessed to have one local family who routinely does this for us. Winnie, the mom dog, came to BDAR and spent about two weeks in foster care before she went into labor. All seemed to be well and she delivered 8 fat, blocky-headed babies. Hours later though, things took a scary and potentially deadly turn.
Winnie's foster family thought she was finished, that all of her babies were delivered. Nearly four hours after the last puppy appeared, she went outside for a potty break, and her foster family noticed two tiny feet hanging out of her. A puppy was stuck. They immediately called the veterinarian and were coached through trying to help deliver the puppy, but no luck. Winnie was rushed into emergency surgery where it was discovered that the puppy trapped in her birth canal and another still in the uterus had died. To make matters worse, she was heavily hemorrhaging. Meanwhile, her fragile new litter were stranded without a momma, and our team sprang into action to provide bottle feeding, warmth, and stimulation while we waited to see if their mom would survive.
She did, but the family wasn't yet out of the woods. You see, Winnie is only a year old, still a puppy herself, and this was her first litter. The cesarean and subsequent spay interrupted the normal hormonal cascade that help to trigger maternal behavior and lactation. Despite her having survived her ordeal, it remained to be seen whether Winnie would accept her litter back and be capable of feeding them.
We are always trying to prepare for the worst-case scenario in these times, but Winnie instantly set all of our fears aside. Late in the afternoon, after recovering from anesthesia, we brought Winnie back to her family and waited with baited breath to see whether she would accept them. She couldn't get to them fast enough! In fact, the puppies were in a small carrier at the time, and precious Winnie tried to cram all of her 35 pounds into it with them. We moved the family to a more comfy kennel and she set to work right away cleaning and nursing them.
The puppies are now 5 weeks old, and half of them have been spoken four. The others, Cabernet, Chablis, Chardonnay, and Merlot are online and accepting applications. We are certain they will all be scooped up long before someone offers a home to Winnie - but hers is truly the most special story in this telling.
It is only because of the support of our donors that we are able to provide life-saving second chances to animals like Winnie and her puppies. This surgery came at extraordinary expense, and the cost of raising the litter and providing for their medical needs including spay and neuter prior to adoption is no small cost, either. But with the help of community partners, members of our Constant Companion Club, contributors to the Clyde Fund, and so many others - we can make a difference for so many. Please consider donating to help support these ongoing efforts, and don't forget to share Winnie and her babies' adoption listings to your social media. Maybe you can help find their forever homes!