BARC’s refusal of offers of humane care may have cost an injured dog her life

Kieko aka Liberty, a young dog, was brought to BARC on Monday, 3/15/10.   It was obvious that she had suffered severe head/eye injuries.  BARC’s vet reportedly told volunteers that it appeared that the dog had been beaten with a 2×4. 

Despite, Keiko’s obvious severe injuries BARC decided that she should wait at BARC until Friday when her stray hold period would expire. At that point she would “officially belong to BARC” and BARC would remove her eyes.  On Friday morning, BARC vet staff operated on Keiko.  This was done despite that BARC has no diagnostic tools to properly evaluate the extent of Keiko’s injuries, nor do they have the proper surgical equipment for this type of surgery.  If BARC’s services had been the only option available for Keiko, BARC might have been considered a hero for attempting to save this animal.  However, this is far from the truth.

Early this week, the rescue community offered to take Keiko from BARC to a specialist where she could get the immediate specialized care that she desperately needed.  This would have been at no cost to BARC i.e. taxpayers.   BARC repeatedly refused these offers.

After hearing of BARC’s refusal, the community bombarded BARC and the city of Houston with requests that Keiko be released to see a specialist.  BARC did not release Keiko to rescue, but on Thursday, BARC allegedly took Keiko to a specialist who allegedly recommended that her eyes should be removed.  That day, BARC representative, Chris Newport told Fox 26 that the specialist had offered to perform Keiko’s surgery free of charge.  This offer was refused and Keiko was taken back to BARC where BARC staff proceeded to operate on Keiko. 

BARC is a clinic of “last resort” i.e. when there are no other options available.   BARC staff has only the most basic diagnostic tools at their disposal; they have no x-ray machines and certainly nothing more sophisticated such as an MRI or CT scanner; their microscopes are in need of repair; their surgical equipment is geared towards spays/neuters only; they do not have the ability to run complete blood panels; many of the spays / neuters are done in a former closet.  In addition, after delicate surgery such as this, Keiko would have required overnight medically monitored care.  BARC cannot not provide this.  Yet, BARC still proceeded with the surgery to remove Keiko’s eyes and soon after she died.

There are a number of troubling questions:         

1) BARC is not equipped to diagnose nor treat this type of severe injury. Why didn’t BARC immediately call on rescuers on Monday, 3/15/10 when Keiko came in with these severe injuries? They call on rescuers for animals with much less severe injuries such as broken bones, ringworm and upper respiratory infections. Why not this dog?

2) On Tuesday 3/16/10, rescuers began asking to pull Keiko and take her to a specialist who has the diagnostic equipment to do sensitive surgeries. Why did David Atencio and Dr. Mendelsohn repeatedly refuse these offers throughout the week?

3) Why did Keiko wait 3 1/2 days before BARC’s attempts to properly diagnose her injuries at a specialist’s office with the appropriate equipment? BARC’s spokesperson said it wasn’t safe to move her until Thursday, but in an earlier statement he said that she was rolling over for belly rubs. If she was well enough to roll over for belly rubs, why wouldn’t she be well enough to ride in a car, especially since it was clear that this was an emergency situation?

4) BARC is well known to have rampant diseases.   Does BARC personnel think that Keiko was in a healthier environment waiting in a BARC kennel rather than in a private vet’s office?

5) BARC is severely underfunded. If a rescue group was willing to take to take Keiko and have her treated by an eye specialist, at no cost to taxpayers, why did David Atencio continue to refuse?

6) Why did BARC spend so much money on this severely injured dog when free, and much better alternatives, were available?

7) In emergencies, other animals have been released from BARC before the stray hold period was up. BARC’s own policy and procedure manual states clearly that animals with certain medical conditions such as ringworm and upper respiratory infections can be released before the stray hold period has expired.  Why wasn’t this dog, with far more severe injuries, released when care was offered?

8 )  Of the 6 vets that the city touts as examining Keiko, 4 were BARC vets. None of these four vets would have had access to proper diagnostic equipment to adequately diagnose an injury such as Keiko’s, much less operate on her.  Why did they proceed when they clearly did not have the equipment to adequately care for Keiko?

9) Why did BARC vets consider handling such a major and specialized surgery when they knew that they did not have appropriate surgical tools for this specialized and delicate surgery?

10) If the city claims that BARC does have appropriate equipment to properly diagnose injuries such as Keiko’s, we would like to know which tests were done by the any of the 4 BARC vets on 03/15/10 or 3/16/10 that allowed them to determine and diagnose that Keiko’s eyes should be removed? X-rays? MRI? CT Scan? Blood work?

11) If the city claims that BARC does have appropriate equipment to properly diagnose injuries such as Keiko’s, we would like to know exactly which tests were done by any of the 4 the BARC vets on 03/15/10 or afterwards that allowed them to determine that she did NOT have a brain injury that might require additional treatment?  X-rays? MRI? CT Scan? Blood work?

12) What tests were done by both of the outside vets that allowed them to determine and diagnose that Keiko’s eyes should be removed? X-rays? MRI? CT Scan?  Blood work?

13) What tests were done by either of the outside vets that allowed them to determine that she did not have a brain injury that might require additional treatment? X-rays? MRI? CT Scan? Blood work?

14) If a vet agreed to evaluate and diagnose Keiko, why did he/she later not want to be identified?

15) According to media reports, the specialist who examined Keiko on Thursday 3/18/10 offered to do the surgery for free? Why was this offer refused?

16) Why was surgery performed at BARC when they had no options for medically monitored aftercare?

17) Dr. Mendelsohn was reprimanded and fined by Virginia’s Veterinary Board for the death of a dog that died during a routine spay procedure. After the fiasco concerning the discovery of disciplinary actions filed against Dr. O, why did BARC hire yet another vet who has at least one disciplinary action on her record?

18) Did the city do any type of background check before hiring Dr. Mendelsohn or any of the other vets?  If so, we would like to know what types of checks are performed?

Had Keiko been released to rescue who could take her to a specialist the minute she entered BARC, she might have lived.  A specialist might have been able to save her sight had she been evaluated at that time.   However, BARC’s director and veterinarians utterly and stubbornly failed this dog and I believe it cost Keiko her life.  The animals’ welfare should be the number one concern for the staff at BARC.  Everything else should come second, including egos and publicity.

It is time for regime change.  Clearly, BARC leadership is not interested in the best welfare of the animals.  I, for one, am tired of waiting for them to stop the killing and inhumane treatment.

Please take a minute to speak out for Keiko.  Demand leaders who will work hard to stop the killing and inhumane treatment.

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  1. Pingback: Update on Dog with Severe Eye Injuries at BARC « YesBiscuit!

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