The Retired Hounds’ Personal Physician

"People know these animals have given so much to us, we've got an obligation to give something back to them," Dr. Snyder says

"People know these animals have given so much to us, we've got an obligation to give something back to them," Dr. Snyder says

Visit the Hound Welfare Fund website at www.houndwelfarefund.org.

Dr. Kirk Snyder, DVM, of the Richmond Road Veterinary Clinic in Lexington, Ky., has been providing health care to the Iroquois Hunt Club’s hounds–active and retired–for many years. Caring for high-performance athletes at the peak of their hunting careers is one thing, but providing veterinary care to retired hounds is quite another. So we put the question to him: once their hunting days are over, what veterinary care do retired hounds need?

All of the Iroquois Hunt Club’s retired hounds are cared for under the auspices of the Hound Welfare Fund, a non-profit foundation that is the first of its kind in the world.  The retired hounds receive veterinary treatment under the HWF’s guiding philosophy: to give every hound the health care it needs, within reason, given the hound’s age, physical condition, and prospects for good quality of life with the treatment. When it becomes necessary, infirm hounds are put to sleep humanely, giving them a painless and peaceful end to an active, happy life and retirement.

Full Cry: What sort of maintenance care do the retired hounds receive? Do you handle that?

Dr. Snyder: Actually, for the routine health care we have the kennel staff set up where they do annual required vaccinations, worming, flea and tick control, heartworm preventatives, and things like that, using vaccines and drugs that we recommend.  The kennel staff are perfectly qualified, and it is legal for them to perform these procedures, which reduces costs while ensuring excellent care.

We monitor things. Basically, our role at the clinic is diagnostic medicine and surgery. That’s where we come in. Much of the expense of the hounds’ care is in diagnostics. Just as we would with your house pet or a person, we sometimes need laboratory evaluations, X-rays, or ultrasounds. Those are necessary in helping determine what a hound’s problem is and then how to proceed.

Why spay or neuter a retired hound?

Unless they are going to be bred, hounds should be neutered or spayed for health reasons. In a female, at a certain age, she’ll reach a point where they really shouldn’t be having puppies or there is an increased risk of uterine complications. Uterine wall degeneration, for example, can be very serious.

Neutering males reduces problems like prostatitis, some prostate tumors, and aggression. Neutered males tend to stay closer to home, not wanting to roam as much. They settle down. So spaying and neutering are good for health and maintenance reasons.

People sometimes wonder if health care for retired hounds goes overboard, but are there times when you decide not to treat a hound?

Once we diagnose a problem in a hound, we work with the HWF to determine what the approximate cost of treating the problem will be and what the odds of a successful outcome are. A lot of the conditions we run across in these hounds are just things that would occur in anybody’s pet, and they are very, very treatable.

The Iroquois hounds are very fortunate. This is along the lines of what we’re seeing in the horse industry, with retirement facilities for thoroughbreds, standardbreds, and others, where people know these animals have given so much to us, we’ve got an obligation to give something back to them.

A colleague of mine who is a specialist at a veterinary college in another state, for example, has particularly commented on the shining example Iroquois is setting with its retired hounds. He’s just absolutely amazed by it. Of course, in society today, this seems to be becoming the norm. These hounds serve the hunt club eagerly as far as they can. We feel this care is our obligation to them for what they’ve done, as long as their quality of life is good.

To learn more about the Hound Welfare Fund and its innovative retirement program for the Iroquois hunt club’s hounds, visit www.houndwelfarefund.org.

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