Aug 28, 2017 News
– Huskies, Akita breeds have agonizing existence in hot climate
A local veterinarian is urging Government to monitor the importation of dogs to Guyana, some, like the husky and Akita, since these animals punish in this country’s hot climate.
The Husky and the Akita have thick coats and are common to places with cold climates. They develop several life-threatening conditions in high temperatures.
The veterinarian was responding to a recent article in the Kaieteur News about the importation of these breeds. The expose has reportedly resulted in some individuals issuing threats to some vets.
The source suggested that monitoring be done at a policy level.
“It can be done under the Animal Welfare Act. I don’t recall seeing anything in the Act about dangerous dogs or the breeds of dogs that can or cannot be kept in the country, or those that are allowed entry into the country or prohibited entry into the country.”
He added that in addition to the Husky and Akita, a lot of other cold climate dogs will end up in Guyana due to the lack of proper measures in place to curb the illegal importation of dogs and people illegally practicing veterinary medicine in the country.
He said that the next generation needs to be educated about what breeds are common in Guyana, the foreign breeds that can be imported and how to care for them.
“Many think all you need to do is give a dog food and water and he stays happy forever. That is so wrong and then when that theory has been proven wrong, who suffers? The dog suffers. And when a dog ends up in that situation, what other choice does the dog have than to stay in that situation and suffer until it’s dead.”
The vet acknowledged that some of these dogs are smuggled into the country via Brazil and Venezuela. According to him, when the dogs are brought in illegally, they hardly ever get to a veterinarian.
He said that regulating and monitoring the practice of veterinary medicine falls under the Guyana Veterinary Board. But he says that this entity has not been performing its mandate efficiently.
As a result, unqualified people have access to narcotic drugs such as ketamine (an anesthetic) to treat animals. He said that many of these drugs are coming from the public health system because the government is not putting systems in place to curb the illegal practices.
“We have to curb the illegal entry of these dogs, we have to curb the illegal practice of veterinary medicine in the country and we have to curb the illegal sale of veterinary medicine and create awareness.”
The vet believes that the ideas and measures to curb the practice of illegal veterinary medicine in Guyana along with the importation of these exotic breeds can be done using the similar measures employed to control the wildlife trade.
“The ideas and measures are there and can be put in place within a month, but when are we going to start? Every day we fail to start, we are failing the animals. Right now if you apply for an import permit to bring a husky into this country, you are going to get it. They know the consequences but they still give it to you because there is no regulation that mandates the GLDA to stop.”
He said that there are some foreign breeds that adapt well, despite not being ideal for the tropical climate. Some of these include the German shepherd and the Labrador retriever. He said that some Golden Retrievers have adapted well but are still not ideal for the local conditions.
Further, he said that there are some Huskies and Akitas in Guyana that are treated well, “but those are (by) rich people who can afford it. They have St. Bernards, but they can afford an AC. These are the gold miners who can afford to have their air conditioning on 14 hours a day. In the night it (the heat) doesn’t really bother them (the dogs) that much but in the day (it does).”
A dog owner, who brought his Husky for treatment to the same vet during the interview, revealed that his dog does not drink room temperature water like regular dogs.
“He would turn up the bowl and throw it away.” The owner said his Husky only drinks ‘ice cold’ water to deal with the heat.
According to the vet the breeds are brought here because there is an obsession for the ‘cute’ and ‘fluffy’ dogs.
“There are some people who because of a little child seeing some fluffy dog, they want them. And the owners without knowing the consequences or how that dog would suffer, they go ahead and get them.”
In some cases, he said that people would stray their common breed dogs to accommodate their Husky or Akita, leading to an increased population of stray dogs in the streets.
He revealed that these breeds require more maintenance than other breeds that don’t have as much fur. The cost to shave a husky is close to $10,000. Due to the expense, some huskies are neglected and the fur coats grow and become matted.
This neglect, he revealed, leads to the dogs developing mange, but because of their thick coats, the condition is not easily noticeable.
“When you shave down the dog it’s the entire body that’s affected. So the thick coat that we are seeing here and the stress levels are causing them to have a lot of diseases.”
He said that the stress levels cause the dogs to develop respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems, increased heart rate and nose bleeds. The maintenance for these dogs is also expensive.
According to the veterinarian, he has visited the seawalls on many occasions and seen huskies without any fur, and full of mange, which were abandoned at the seawalls.
“I’ve seen them. Because when the owners cannot take care of the dogs they abandon them on the seawalls. The dogs are vulnerable. We’re going to have these dogs and they are going to get mange and other types of diseases, because their immune system is always low. Their immune system is always compromised because their stress level is always high.”
Also expressing concern on the issue, animal rights activist, Syeada Manbodh said that she has raised the issue about the negative impact Guyana’s hot climate has on some breeds.
She said that she had called on the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), the Ministry of Agriculture and the Veterinarian Association to set practical guidelines that would protect such species.
“As far as I can tell, nothing significant has been done and the population of huskies and other breeds from the north continue to expand locally. I have been told that most of these northern breeds in the Dominican Republic spend most of their lives in air-conditioned environments. The owners in that country learned from experience that these breeds could not tolerate the everyday stress of hot weather; which often led to sickness and shortened lives. Consequently, there is a need for restrictions on importing breeds of dogs not suited for our climate.”
She said that the best breeds for Guyana are the mixed breeds that have developed in Guyana over the past 200 years. “These dogs make wonderful friends, good watchdogs and will sacrifice their lives for a good master. These breeds do well with a daily meal, clean water, a clean place to sleep, daily exercise and plenty of love.”
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