The weekend of the first clinic, a family of four waited patiently in a line of more than 150 cars. Two young girls, Miranda and Melody, shared the back seat with friendly, gangly 9-month-old dogs. They had named them Mr. Wiggles and Galilea.
The Cortez family had never had dogs before but, just two weeks earlier, had taken on two rowdy, loving pups from a cruelty situation. Of course, the daughters had fallen in love with them—but the parents were facing the reality of having two big dogs in a fierce economic downturn. When they heard Friends For Life was holding a free veterinary clinic, the parents saw a way they could keep the dogs the girls already adored. They packed up the whole family and came to get help.
Our vet examined the dogs and they were dewormed, vaccinated and given flea preventative. The family headed home, gracious and grateful. Over the next week, Mr. Wiggles started having bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. He had grown increasingly lethargic and the family was concerned. The older daughter, Miranda, called around asking local vet clinics for any suggestions, but came away empty handed. She cried herself to sleep that night, worried about the dogs she had come to love so deeply in such a short period of time.
They brought Mr. Wiggles and Galilea back to Friends For Life the following weekend to see our vet.
We immediately tested him for parvovirus. The test was positive. While survivable, parvo is a difficult disease to combat. Since both dogs were unvaccinated when the Cortez’ found them, we knew if one had parvo, they both did. The treatment for parvo is supportive; boiled chicken and rice, fluids, keeping calories and hydration up. It’s essentially a stomach flu that can kill a dog. But the vomiting and diarrhea are a messy, difficult thing for families. Let alone a family that had never had dogs and just moved into their first house.
The Cortez family could have said it was too much. They could have given up. But they didn’t.
Dr. Seelhoff and the FFL medical team gave the dogs fluids and injectable anti-nausea drugs. The family was sent home with large crates for containing the dogs inside, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medications for each. An emergency vet visit for two parvo dogs would have run this family easily $1,000 to start with. We’ve never seen a family more grateful for help and more committed to do whatever they could at home to get Mr. Wiggles and Galilea better.
“The day after we saw you Mr. Wiggles woke up and was able to walk! As of today, he’s eating and definitely more energetic!Mrs. Cortez
Galilea started showing symptoms yesterday. She wasn’t eating and spit up a little bit. She seems to be doing well today. Symptoms didn’t get worse the way we saw with Mr. Wiggles.
They have their tired moments for sure but sleeping well when they do sleep. The only thing right now I’m looking forward to is getting nails trimmed and a bath. That’s the only thing I would say we “need”.
Miranda is doing an awesome job with their medications and feedings. I’m really proud of her. Melody is loving on them as well with attention and hugs and kisses!
We are so grateful for all of you and y’all are all in our prayers!!” — Mrs. Cortez
Here’s the thing—Judge Hidalgo included veterinary services as essential. We learned, as a nation, what can happen if rabies vaccines lapse in large numbers. We have learned as animal lovers—while not zoonotic diseases—failure to vaccinate for parvo and distemper can wipe out thousands of animals.
On a more emotional level, we believe these services are essential because it allows families to stay together in a terribly stressful time. What is a better role for animal shelters than to help families not have to put animals into the system in the first place?
Still, vet services are inaccessible for so many. So, we decided to give them away.
The Cortez family isn’t giving up on Mr. Wiggles and Galilea. We won’t give up on the Cortez family.
If you are fortunate enough to have resources, we need your help. If you are not, we are here for you.