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Beautiful Botwin following the snakebite (2011)
Snakebite is one of the most common fears for humans and animals alike.  The Toledo District is home to a wide range of poisonous snakes, including the dreaded family of Fer-de-Lance, commonly known as "Tommy Goffs".  It is important to note that locally all 'poisonous' snakes are referred to as Tommy Goffs, the snake is the following story was more than likely a Tropical Rattlesnake.  While most people believe that snakes are a phenomenon limited in range to the village or jungle, the truth is quite the opposite; these elusive reptiles have been seen in urban areas including backyards and other grassy areas, including abandoned / vacant "bushy" lots.  

Elsbeth Lam & Naud Brower live near the beautiful village of San Miguel in the Toledo District.  They operate "Back-a-Bush" offering budget backpackers and tourists a unique experience in the heart of the Toledo District.  A part of their family is beautiful Botwin, a big and friendly brown and white dog.  The following is Botwin's story. 

Botwin came home this morning (August 7th, 2011) with some wounds on his head. One hour later his head was 5 times its normal size and the two toothmarks confirmed what we feared: snakebite! His tongue wasn't swollen and he could still breathe freely so we started calling all the vets we could think of, and a friend in Cayo called the ones she knew. Sunday morning, no one was picking up the phone. Emergency numbers do not work on Sunday mornings either. We left a message on Dr. Bennett's voice mail and he called us within 10 minutes. He gave us good advice, the dog needs steroids (we did not have that) but Benadryl will work for now, high dose twice an hour. So down went our Benadryl.  Meanwhile we called on a friend who uses prednisone. We gave Botwin his prednison and right now he is eating! He looks like a monster but we have high hopes for his survival. We called Dr. Bennett again and he confirms that Botwin will probably recover and that the worst is behind us. Phew!!!

As of August 9th, Botwin is doing a bit better, the swelling is going down, he walks and eats and drinks a bit. It may take a while before he is his old self again. But we are confident that he will survive. Elsbeth & Naud are so relieved! And now he will be immune for snake bite, Elspeth & Naud have another dog who got bitten by a snake 2 years ago and survived. She got bit at the same time as Botwin and has no symptoms at all. Researching the internet, we came across the term 'snakebroken', referring to dogs who survived a snakebite and have antiserum.

A special thanks to Dr. Floyd Bennett for his advice and support, especially from so far away.  Thank-you for going above and beyond the call of duty!

Important Information:  Botwin is a 50 pound dog.  He was first given 75 mg Benadryl repeated an hour later, and then Prednisone 40 mg, repeated a day later, then 20 mg Prednisone for the two following days.  Consult your vet for further dosing instructions.

   
 
 
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Lucky is an adorable dog. His fur is white and fluffy with small light brown spots. Seeing him today you would never suspect that he had a less fortunate start in life. When Brian found Lucky he looked terrible skinny and had big sores all over his body and head. He was rescued from a man who was beating him and taken to the dolomite plant. In truth I was not too happy about this as it is hard to feed and maintain so many dogs. However, with good nutrition Lucky soon became a beautiful and lovely dog and you could not help but adore him.

 
 
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A recent trend for Belizean families is to purchase expensive pure bred dogs such as the pitbull, bull-masstif, German Sheppards and Rottweilers. While these dogs serve as pets they are also used as guard dogs. The price for these dogs range between $250 to as much as $800 for an 8 week old puppy. The dog is purchased with little thought for adequate care and training. In extreme cases, these dogs are taught to fight and be overly aggressive. Oftentimes when animals such as these become sickly, the 'owner' lets them go, out of sight is out of mind, and the animal perishes.
Gus is a full breed pittbull that my partner Don found one day while assisting a friend with her car that had broken down. He and our neighbour Howard were preparing to tow the vehicle to a mechanic. Don looked out the window of the truck and saw something in the bushes that looked like a small animal.

 
 
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On a hot Sunday in April we decided to cool off with a picnic by the river. First stop was Santa Ana Falls but there were too many people. Therefore, we continued and ended up by Jordan. On the way down to the river we saw a white, very skinny and mangy looking dog. You could tell that with a healthy diet she would be a beautiful and elegant dog. Unlike most pot lickers she was not afraid or skittish but came right up and looked at us. Obviously, she was weak and very hungry so we started feeding her and ended up giving her the whole picnic including a whole cream cheese with fresh herbs and garlic, tuna salad, bread and some digestive biscuits.
Brian’s sister, Verda, was visiting from Texas. She and her husband are dog lovers like us and have adopted no less than 7 dogs from the dog pound. We could not bring ourselves to leave her and ended up taking her with us. She is staying at the dolomite plant with Tom and Betty and is a ferocious eater who quickly gained weight.

 
 
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Tom is a delightful dog. He is very vocal and talks a lot when he greets you. He has lots of energy and can easily jump straight up onto a table which he likes to do so you can pet him and give him lots of attention (we are trying to dissuade him from this habit which is not really good manners for a dog).

Tom was rescued in June 2009. Driving on a small road behind the dolomite plant Brian was disturbed to find a dog, so malnourished that it was barely able to stand up, being tied with a short piece of rope. When asked why the dog was chained the owner, who also is a Minister for a local church, said that the dog was trying to run away. Brian told the owner that the dog was probably just trying to find something to eat and “that God does not like it when you mistreat animals”. To this the man answered “God no care…!”

 
 
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On his way to the dolomite plant Brian noticed what looked like a small pile of dirt on the road. Something made him stop the car to take a look. The first thing he noticed was a pair of amazing eyes starring at him and when looking closer, he realized that is was a tiny puppy. Joe, as we call him, was terribly skinny, had hardly any hair and his left back legs was broken. He looked like a possum and used his last strength to wriggle his tail.

Despite the sorry state, Brian picked him up and took him to the plant. The employees didn’t think he would survive. We took him home to see what we could do. The vet recommended that we make a brace for the broken leg. Joe was so small that we used a wooden ice cream stick – broken in half – and padded the leg with cotton wool. With this he was able to stand when we took him out in the yard. However, he was so small and weak that he would topple over when the grass was swaying in the wind.

 
 
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Last weekend I went for the first time to take pictures of the dog my friend Brian Holland and I rescued a couple of months ago.
 It was quite distressing when I found out from one of my customers that in along the seaside in Punta Gorda where they were staying there was a dog that had been hit by car.  I went to have a look to see if there was anything I could do. I’m not a vet but it looked to me that the dog had a broken back. She could not move and was in that same spot for quite some time. Out of desperation I called my friend Brian. He and his wife Anne have rescued many dogs in Punta Gorda and they are known in town for their knowledge and kind hearts towards the K9 family.