Friday, March 25, 2011
Poisoned Food Claims 48 Victims at the Dog and Cat Rescue Center.
Brigitte Gomm the founder of Samui’s Dog and Cat Rescue Center is distraught, and quite rightly so. In late February/ early March the Center lost 43 dogs with a further five dying later.
The tragedy started with “Sporty” who commenced with intestinal bleeding leading to death. Two other dogs at the Ban Talig Ngam Center followed within the next two days. The problem, whatever it was, appeared to be liver related as the dogs took on a jaundiced yellow hue on becoming ill. There was a definite problem, but at the time nobody seemed to know what it was! Samples were sent to the Samui Bangkok Hospital for lab tests. The cost was high and the results were inconclusive. Remember, the Rescue Centre is not a commercial operation it depends on charitable donations in order to survive!
As the death toll mounted Brigitte and her colleagues began to suspect poisoning of some sort. They attended to the obvious and cleaned feeding bowls more thoroughly and stopped using the water from their well, because the land behind the shelter had been recently cleared and they felt pesticides might have leached into the water table.
It seemed strange that dogs were dying in Taling Ngam but were unaffected in Chaweng. Why was this? Then the truth began to dawn. The fifty dogs at the Chaweng shelter were all fed on leftovers and donations but the dogs in the other and bigger facility depended largely on dry dog food from Bangkok. Brigitte looked at the dry food. First they stopped using it and secondly they sent samples to Bangkok for analysis. As no results appeared they bought a small test lab, themselves. They found the food was contaminated with Alpha-Toxins, or so they said. Alpha-Toxins are bacterial infestations like staphylococcuus and clostridium. These can cause conditions like pneumonia and severe stomach upsets that can affect the liver.
As soon as they stopped using the food, it was remarkable to see many dogs beginning to get better. Sadly some were too badly affected and did not! To counteract the poisoning every dog was given vitamins and liver supplements. This was an expensive but necessary life supportive treatment.
Now, Brigitte and her team understood why so many of their dogs had died, so they contacted the food supplier in Bangkok. The vet in question explained that they had changed the food formulation the month before. Instead of using a rice base they had moved over to corn. This could well have been caused by the rising rice price. Corn is notorious in how it can easily become mouldy thus creating alfla toxins which are very damaging to the liver. These moulds abound in Thailand, especially in the rainy season. The supplier did not offer to refund the product, but suggested reblending it with a non-affected base. Yes, this would simply make the food a little less toxic! Not surprisingly the Dog and Cat Rescue team refused this offer. The supplier was also annoyed that Samui had warned the “Soi Dog “organization in Phuket who also received their dry food from him. This largely averted a potential tragedy there. Sadly 5 of their dogs died but they were saved the horrific ravages experienced in Koh Samui.
To date the Bangkok producer has received THB 206,000 in payments for his goods. He has made no offer of restitution. He has now blocked all calls from Brigitte but it is unlikely his problems will end there. Another customer, a vet in Bangkok breeds huskies. To date he has lost all 24 of his dogs. It is unlikely he will let this pass lightly!
This is a very sad story where the food manufacturer stands a good chance of going scot free for his negligence. The Samui Cat and Dog Rescue Center has accrued large expenses because of this fiasco. They are a charitable organization and depend on donations for their survival. If you could find a way of helping them in this tragic time, they would be truly grateful. You can find more about this story and have an opportunity to help by visiting their website at "http://www.samuidog.org"