Native vet rescues stray canine from the Caribbean | Thrive

LEXINGTON – At first glance, Turk is just an ordinary dog. He loves his chew toys and nibbles on houseplants when his owners aren’t looking. He runs around his large garden and makes friends with everyone he meets.

Still, Turk’s life was almost entirely different. When veterinarian Susan Burkhart first saw the stray puppy four months ago, he was sick, tired, and almost dead.

Turk, who was born in the Caribbean country of the Turks and Caicos Islands, has adapted well to his life in Lexington.

Turkish sledge.jpg

turk snowflakes.jpeg

turkcamp2 copy.jpg


Turk Snowflake.jpg

Turk, who was born in the Caribbean country of the Turks and Caicos Islands, has adapted well to his life in Lexington.

Turkish sledge.jpg

turk snowflakes.jpeg

turkcamp2 copy.jpg


“He was covered in hundreds and hundreds of ticks, and he was so anemic and weak that he found it hard to get up,” said Susan Burkhart, chief of staff at the Animal Medical Center of Ontario.

Burkhart met Turk during a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands, where she wanted to attend a training seminar. After the seminar was canceled due to COVID-19, Burkhart decided to volunteer anyway.

She contacted the Turks and Caicos Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TCSPCA), where representatives said they would welcome their help in neutering and neutering the massive population of stray dogs on the islands.

On the islands, Burkhart was fascinated by the stray dogs. The islanders call them “potcakes” because they survive by eating the food that sticks to the bottom of the pots that people throw away for them.

According to Potcake Place, a stray dog ​​adoption agency, most grown potcakes are medium-sized, ranging from 45 to 55 pounds.

“I’ve seen a few sick animals and somehow realized what a bad problem they have,” she said. “So many of them live in packs on the street just looking for food and fresh water.”

Burkhart was particularly amazed at how tame the dogs were. Although they lived in wild packs, most would willingly come to her to pet and eat her.

“When I drove around trying to feed them, many of them are still very kind and forgiving even though people have abandoned them,” she said.

When Burkhart met Turk, she knew she couldn’t leave him on the island. He had been admitted for castration but was too weak to undergo the procedure.

Instead, Burkhart brought him to the United States, determined to find a home for him. The nine-pound pooch was so exhausted that he slept all the way home, curled up under Burkhart’s airplane seat.

Meanwhile, Buzz and Bertha Bishop from Lexington had just lost one of their own furry friends. A mutual friend joined the bishops with Burkhart a few weeks after their return. Bertha knew the moment she met Turk that he should be part of the family. The very next day he moved to his fur family.

“He’s the best dog ever,” said Bishop. “It’s strange to say that he knows how lucky he is, but it seems like that sometimes. Everyone loves Turk. “

Burkhart and Bishop have been obsessed with potcakes ever since.

“They are just really interesting, unique, tough dogs. They are smart and survivors, ”said Burkhart.

The two women now tell everyone they meet about potcakes, added Bishop. The couple have become vocal advocates of adoption and are even recruiting others to help with the rescue effort.

In the future, Burkhart hopes to bring more volunteers to transport potcakes to the United States for adoption.

“Rescue organizations down there are always looking for people who are going back to the US and Canada and ready to serve as couriers,” Bishop said. “Rescue workers take care of paperwork, fees, everything … all people have to do is travel with the puppy in a stretcher.”

To be returned to the United States, the dog must undergo a rabies vaccination and pass a veterinary exam in order to board the plane. Customs require a state health certificate and veterinary papers from the country of origin.

Even so, you don’t have to become a dog courier or adopt a pot cake to address animal overpopulation and homelessness issues. Many cats and dogs await a good home at the Richland County Dog Shelter and Humane Society of Richland County.

Burkhart also encouraged current pet owners to ensure that their animals are neutered or neutered.

Burkhart will be returning to Turks and Caicos Islands later this month for additional spay and neuter treatments, as well as treating heartworm and tick-borne diseases.

Treating these ailments improves a dog’s quality of life, but also makes castration and neutering procedures safer.

“Spaying and neutering (dogs with tick-borne diseases) has been quite a challenge because tick-borne diseases don’t have platelets and so they bleed like crazy,” she said.

A GoFundMe account raised more than $ 2,000 to cover the cost of treating the animals.

“Lots of people got together and wanted to do what they could to help. It’s really nice to know that there are so many people out there who care, “she said.


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