In this episode of Dr. Cliff Worldwide Vet, we bring both heartbreak and joy. If you have already watched Episode #3, then you know about the Rhesus Monkey with facial injuries that required extensive surgery to his jaw. This episode follows his progress along with an update on Cupcake, the stray puppy, who we introduced to you in Episodes #2 and #5.
How is the Rhesus Monkey?
The Rhesus monkey’s facial injuries were healing, but a new problem had now developed that Dr. Cliff had never dealt with before. The monkey was chewing at the injuries on his paw and cannibalizing himself. Dr. Ashad explained how Self-Injurious Behaviour (SIB) was not unusual among Rhesus monkeys.
Scientists believe SIB to be an intellectual or psychiatric disability with genetic links. Approximately 14% of individually housed primates exhibit SIB following aggressive episodes that cause injuries during mating season. This vulnerability increases if the monkey was also exposed to aggressive social circumstances during the first two years of its life. Such monkeys have a nervous system prone to dysregulation even with mild stressors. They deploy self-harm to lower their heart rates and cope with the distressing effects of anxiety.
The accident and subsequent surgery had put this Rhesus monkey in an unfamiliar and psychologically stressful situation. Biting at his paw was the only way he knew how to cope. But the SIB had now made his paw wound untreatable and the only option remaining was amputation. Dr. Cliff questioned how the monkey would survive without fingers in one forearm. They were critical for feeding and grabbing when they jumped through tree branches. But Dr. Ashad assured him the monkey would be alright, and they scheduled the surgery.
Cupcake & International Adoptions
Cupcake’s paw was starting to heal and time was coming to plan her exit from the People For Animal (PFA) Shelter in Hyderabad. While in recovery, Dr. Cliff’s daughter, Emily, had spent many hours with Cupcake. They had developed a bond and Emily wanted to adopt Cupcake and bring her back to Canada. Unfortunately, this was not in the cards! Pet adoptions, especially from India, are particularly complicated because of the high risk of Rabies. Each year, 50,000 people die from Rabies around the globe. Of them, 30,000 are on the Indian Subcontinent, and most are children! These are shocking and tragic statistics.
Consequently, an international adoption would place Cupcake into quarantine for a month, which would not bode well for her at her stage in recovery. Furthermore, she was accustomed to street living year-round in a warm South Indian climate. The transition to a domesticated lifestyle, much of it indoors during long cold months, might also prove difficult for her. All things considered, Dr. Cliff felt that Cupcake had a better future in Hyderabad. Emily accepted this eventually. But even so, her heart broke every time she observed Cupcake barking at other dogs, terrified of them.
Releasing Dogs back to the Streets
PFA tries very hard to place the dogs they treat at the shelter into loving forever homes. But most dogs once treated and recovered, are spayed or neutered and then returned back to the neighbourhoods where they were found. Streetlife for these animals seemed harsh to Dr. Cliff and Emily initially until they observed releases in action. The PFA had three dogs ready for release and took Dr. Cliff and Emily along for the ride. No sooner were they in familiar surroundings, the dogs hopped off the vehicle with tails wagging to welcoming cheers and pats from local school kids and people who knew them by name. The dogs were quite “at home” on their streets and the people who live there were part of their ecosystem. Dr. Cliff and Emily observed how releasing dogs back into their neighbourhoods was actually a joyful event and the most natural and humane thing PFA could do for them. Travelling with the PFA crew gave Emily insight and hope that Cupcake’s future would not be as bleak as she imagined.
About People For Animals, Hyderabad
PFA Hyderabad advocates for domestic animals, wildlife, lab animals as well as pets. They also investigate animal abuse in the entertainment and factory farming industries. Their success is very dependent on private donations through membership programs. For more information or to donate, visit PFA Hyderabad.
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About Dr. Cliff
Dr. Cliff Redford, DVM, is an experienced veterinarian and owner/operator of the Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Markham, Ontario, Canada. Fondly known as Dr. Cliff to his clients, he has tended to the wellness of pets and animals for over two decades. Hands-on experience in his clinic, combined with animal advocacy and rescue missions locally and across the globe, has allowed him to curate a vast body of knowledge on animal health and welfare, including preventative counselling, soft tissue surgery, advanced dental procedures, internal medicine and emergency care.