I winced at the look of judgment on the volunteer’s face. Just a moment ago she had thrust a dying puppy toward me that I refused to receive. It only took one glance to know that the puppy was suffering from distemper.
Most of the puppies at the shelter were sick and unfortunately many would end up being euthanized. This was a developing country at a nonprofit shelter that facilitated the care of hundreds of dogs. Resources to care for these critically ill animals were simply unavailable or diverted to other animals with a greater chance of survival.
It was a hard pill to swallow. I had to accept that there was simply nothing I could do. It was in the best interest of all the other animals at the rescue if I avoided contact with the puppies altogether. In this environment, diseases spread like wildfire and I was not willing to be the spark that ignited the flame.
I knew coming into this experience that I would not be able to practice the same quality of medicine that I did at home. I had to be open minded that these organizations do what they can with what little they have. It seems unfair but it is the reality of working in a developing country.
I delicately explained to the volunteer that there was very little we could do for the puppy. I tried to offer some helpful advice on preventing the spread of disease and even commended her for being so attentive. All that I could do was direct her to the veterinarian who would make the most humane decision.