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Smith Street: Dawn has Mange

Saturday night Bernice called, warning me not to bring the Magic 8 around Dawn anymore. “I’d rather they didn’t come over to Smith Street at all,” she said.

Bernice had gotten a peek at Dawn’s neck, and the dog has a severe case of mange. She said Dawn’s neck and chest had been scratched bloody.

“It’s real bad,” Bernice said. “Real, real bad.”

This new and unpleasant development unbelievably complicates matters; for one thing, Dawn and her pups will probably never be reunited, but more importantly, a contagious skin disease also means that when we catch her, she’ll need to be isolated from all other dogs for at least six weeks. There are two types of mange, Sarcoptic and Demodectic, the first is contagious to humans and animals. ICHBA has a 4’ x 4’ portable chain-link kennel, but that’s the extent of our isolation facilities. We simply don’t have a space where we can isolate a feral dog with a transmittable skin disease for over a month.

After spending a week on Smith Street, it’s not a mystery how Dawn got mange. Dogs in the ghetto don’t have it any better than their humans, who are poor, sick, and without health insurance. Until health care becomes AFFORDABLE for both humans and animals, the situation on Smith Street will continue to happen.

On the animal side, I’ve met Angel, a twenty-pound terrier mutt, whose entire flank and hind is bald, red, and infected with some sort of skin disease, possibly mange and probably the source of Dawn’s condition. Angel had a litter of pups a few months ago that waddle up and down Smith Street like a flock of ducks. If Angel’s disease is contagious, then I’m sure those pups are infected also. Then there’s Blackberry, a shorthaired pure gray cat, wearing a frayed collar and sneezing out long strings of greenish mucus every other minute. And lastly, I’ve met Sweet Pea, an obscenely obese Chihuahua whose poor legs are going to have a hell of a time carrying her potbelly around in a few years, if she doesn’t die from diabetes or kidney failure first.

As far as Dawn is concerned, we still haven’t discarded the ideas of capturing her with a lasso, a catchpole, or a stronger sedative that requires an antidote. Right now, Donna, Mason, and I are regrouping, debating the best option. And frankly, we need to come up with somewhere we can isolate her before we try to catch her again. If anyone out there has any suggestions or ideas, please write to thefarnival@gmail.com.

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