Keoki's Corner

Fisher’s Tale

We recently got to meet Fisher when he came in for an exam with Dr. Cheryl Stiehl and were able to get some great pictures of this happy cat.  This is his story.

Article Courtesy of HRSA Office of Communications.

Malnourished, trapped and obviously in trouble, “Fisher The Cat” was nervously looking at the last of his nine lives on a recent chilly morning when HAB staffers chanced to spot him from their office window. Fisher The Cat was the subject of a multi-agency rescue effort during the recent holidays.

Monica Sivills was the first to notice the tattered tabby on the roof of the old daycare center next door – and it wasn’t long before she told Tina Trombley, a nurse by training, who quickly diagnosed the imperiled puss at a distance and declared him nearly at death’s door.

One Sad Tabby: On Dec. 26, HAB staffers spotted a starving kitty from their office window. There wasn’t a moment to lose.

Gene Robinson of the Indian Health Service was enlisted to obtain a ladder from a local construction crew. And soon enough, a coordinated, cross-governmental, public-private, rescue initiative was underway.

After repeated calls to various emergency numbers, Montgomery County Animal Services Officer Jennifer Gill arrived on the scene.

Photo courtesy of HRSA Office of Communications

“Big hearts from throughout the government were involved,” recalled HAB’s Elizabeth Goodger.

Officer Gill soon had matters in hand, and named the frazzled feline “Fisher,” in honor of the lane that runs in front of HRSA headquarters and the adjoining daycare center.

To The Rescue:  (Left to Right) Monica Sivills (HAB); Hanna Endale (HAB); Tina Trombley (HAB); Gene Robinson (IHS); Off. J.E. Gill (Montgomery County Animal Services Division); Stephanie Stines (HAB); Elizabeth Goodger (HAB). Not shown, Wendy Cousino.

To The Rescue:  (Left to Right) Monica Sivills (HAB); Hanna Endale (HAB); Tina Trombley (HAB); Gene Robinson (IHS); Off. J.E. Gill (Montgomery County Animal Services Division); Stephanie Stines (HAB); Elizabeth Goodger (HAB). Not shown, Wendy Cousino. Photo courtesy of the HRSA Office of Communications

“He was in terrible condition and didn’t even put up a fight when he was scooped into the crate,” Goodger recounted.  “We would later learn that he was delivered to the vet with a Put-to-Sleep designation.”

Not so fast!

Limp and lifeless Fisher quickly rebounded, chowing down in his pen at the vet’s office, passing time by curiously watching the antics of the dogs boarding nearby. As days passed, and he continued to rally, his condition was upgraded to stable.

He is now happy at home with the Goodger family.

Fisher at OSSVH

Fisher at OSSVH



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New Strain of Canine Influenza Outbreak in Chicago Area

Over the past few weeks, there have been increasing reports of a new canine influenza outbreak in the Chicago area.  This influenza outbreak afflicting more than 1000 dogs in Chicago and the Midwest, is caused by a different strain of the virus than previous United States outbreaks.

Dr. Edward Dubovi at Cornell University speculates that dogs rescued from meat markets in Asia may be responsible for bringing the new strain (H3N2) of the virus to the United States. This is in contrast to the previous outbreak in Montgomery County, Maryland in August of 2013, which was caused by the canine influenza virus strain H3N8. That local outbreak resulted in 22 confirmed cases and several confirmed deaths. The outbreak was contained and there have been no confirmed cases in our area since then.

The following are facts that dog owners need to be aware of:

  • The influenza virus does not affect people
  • Dogs at risk are dogs that go to day care, boarding facilities, grooming facilities, dog parks, or dogs going out into the rescuecommunity interacting with other dogs.
  • Vaccination against kennel cough (Bordetella) will not prevent dogs from contracting the influenza virus but will prevent or lessen the severity of kennel cough.
  • The current canine influenza vaccine is for a different strain (H3N8) and may not protect against the new strain (H3N2) of the virus.
  • This strain of canine influenza can cause infection and respiratory illness in cats according to Cornell University but there have been no reports of feline illness in the Chicago area.

Canine influenza causes an acute respiratory infection and is a highly contagious virus. Mild cases mimic kennel cough- but the cough persists for 10-21 days despite treatment. Most dogs have a soft, moist cough, while others have a dry cough. Many dogs will have a nasal discharge and a low grade fever. The more severe cases will present with clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high fever (104 – 106F) and increased respiratory effort.

The incubation period is typically 2-5 days after exposure before clinical signs appear. Infected dogs may shed virus for seven to ten days from the initial day of clinical signs. Many infected dogs will not display clinical signs and become silent shedders and spreaders of the infection.

Confirmation of the diagnosis requires polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing at one of two major national laboratories.

Because the source of this new strain of the canine influenza virus is thought to originate in rescued dogs from Asia, it is possible that these dogs could be brought into multiple major cities in the United States. The extent of the exposure is not known at this time.

We recommend using caution if you plan on travelling to the Midwest with your dog.  While it is unknown if there is cross protection between the new strain and the old strain of the virus, you may want to consider vaccination or boostering your dog if previously vaccinated with the currently available canine influenza vaccine.

Please call your veterinarian should you have any questions or concerns.

For additional information regarding this outbreak, we have included some informative links below.

NPR news report April 15, 2015

Cornell media relations office release April 12, 2015

More information about the source of the new strain:

The HSUS and Humane Society International (HSI) are aggressively fundraising and importing dogs from Korea away from the meat trade.

Humane Society International Rescue Report

Alexandria Animals Article

A Humane Nation Article


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Asta’s OCD Journey

A few months ago, we posted a video on the blog about mental illness in pets.  We briefly mentioned obsessive behaviors. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex disorder in which pets excessively repeat otherwise normal animal behaviors that they (and often, their owners) having difficulty stopping.  OCD can resemble other diseases, such as epilepsy, dermatologic conditions, and digestive issues. Since there is no single test for OCD, diagnosis is made by behavior history, observation of behaviors (either directly or by video), and ruling out other medical conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical because the more the dog has a chance to practice his OCD behaviors, the harder it is to extinguish them.

We love to hear your success stories.  One of our long-time clients has raised and trained Shetland sheepdogs for many years.  Their most recent addition, Asta, developed OCD behaviors as a puppy.  Through diligent behavior modification and medical management, Asta is on the road to recovery.  We would like to share her story through this video made by Asta’s loving and dedicated owners.  She put together the video to show Dr. Overall, Pat Miller, and Dr. Karen Hoffmann the difference that they were making in Asta’s life and to thank them for all of their help.  Dr. Hoffmann wanted to share Asta’s story in hopes of informing pet owners about OCD in dogs and to show that there is hope.

As you watch Asta’s Story, keep in mind that these changes did not happen on their own.  It took many months of hard work with behavior modification, medication and management to get Asta where she is now.  Asta’s owners, Susan and Ken, worked closely with Dr. Karen Overall, board-certified veterinary behaviorist, Pat Miller, certified dog trainer and behavior consultant and Dr. Karen Hoffmann, Asta’s primary care veterinarian to optimize Asta’s treatment plan.  And the work is ongoing, but the rewards are great.

astaAsta’s story is heart-warming and has a wonderful outcome.  Not all dogs are lucky enough to have their disease recognized or to have such dedicated owners willing to put the time, energy and money into diagnosis and treatment.  Many dogs will suffer a lifetime with their disease.

If you have any concerns that your dog may have OCD, it is a good idea to schedule an exam with your regular veterinarian. They may suggest a consult with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. These veterinarians have received specialty training in the diagnosis and treatment of OCD and other behavior disorders. They can work with you and your primary care veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan to help you and your dog deal with this potentially devastating disease.  Many veterinary behaviorists will do in-home assessments and some will do long-distance consults.

Be sure to check back for part two of Asta’s story coming soon!