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Beware of Valley Fever

To the Editors:

We had to have our beloved dog euthanized last week after a long, debilitating illness. This concluded an extended saga of veterinary care and misdiagnoses going back over two years. We first sought attention when she began coughing in the fall of 2007. Extensive tests and x-rays were taken and one of the vets we went to even went so far as to anesthetize her to look for an obstruction to the throat. This resulted in a hefty bill but no solution. She was treated for a wide host of respiratory diseases with no change. About two months ago, she began losing the use of her rear legs, and another set of expensive tests were inconclusive. One of the vets mentioned the case to a vet who had recently relocated here from Arizona, and she immediately thought the illness was likely to beCoccidioidomycosis, commonly known as Valley Fever. A simple blood test revealed this to be correct. We began the rather simple treatment with a drug, but it was too late for our pet. Valley Fever is caught when dogs (or people or horses) inhale spores from a fungus that lives in the soil. It is common in the deserts of the U.S. and Mexico. We traveled often to the desert with our dog. If caught early, the prognosis for successful treatment is good.

This letter is not being written to criticize veterinarians, but our dog was seen by four different local vets not including the one from Arizona who finally got it right. Thousands of dollars were spent. Since Arizona is the epicenter for this disease, and we live so close, I am dismayed that this happened. Our consultation with others familiar with the disease in Arizona say that a blood test for Valley Fever is fairly automatic when a dog is seen for a cough. I only hope this letter is read by local pet owners and veterinarians to spare others from a similar sad ending. I would also hope that theColorado State Veterinary School would place more emphasis on treating this disease.

– Jerry Brown & DeeDee deHaro-Brown, Durango

Leaving ‘Durango Time’

Dear Fellow Durangoans,

I have been living in Durango on and off for the past seven years, and like many Texans before me, I eventually became a permanent Durango resident despite some pretty tough treatment by locals because of my birthplace. I have to remind them sometimes that I pay taxes in La Plata County, too. But it wasn’t long after my arrival seven years ago that I became familiar with the term “Durango Time.” At first I thought is was kind of folksy, and I loved the thought of a less hectic life until the guy that was laying my tile in my house told me it would take three weeks to put in a backsplash because it was in the middle of elk season. My backsplash was 6 feet long and 6 inches high. That equates to a lot of elk hunting.

Over the past seven years it seems to me that “Durango Time” has become an excuse for “Bad Service.”

At first I thought it was just me being treated like a “Damn Texan,” as my accent is hard to hide being a 5th generation Texan. Then I figured out it was really an excuse for poor service. Not all local businesses in Durango use it as an excuse, but I was particularly amused by a local business owner that told me that he has never been able to get good help in his business ever since the Fort became a liberal arts college. I burst out laughing ... could not believe my ears. There are many businesses in town that provide terrific service like Carvers, Beaujo’s, Ken and Sue’s, Diamond Belle and Zia Taqueria to name a few. And there is no magic as to why they are good. The business owners provide a good product at a good price with great service and great staff and they do it on the “Customer’s Time.” One can look at these establishments and they have one thing in common. They have staff members that have been there for a LOOOONG time ... some for at least the seven years that I know of and the reason why they stay is because the owners have a great knack for mentoring and keeping good people because they are good people themselves. Congrats to those of you who are getting it right, and you know who you are by your bank balances.

So now I am about to move back to the Motherland, not because I can’t get used to “Durango Time,” but due to family reasons. But I beg Durangoans to keep an eye on customer service as really that is the big discriminator for a business in tourist town. And I am sure I will be back in Durango every summer to escape the hot, humid summers and to spend some of my fixed income dollars, which last time I looked Texas U.S. dollars look just like Colorado U.S. dollars. But I will continue to keep hoping that Durango will get a reputation for fabulous customer service, even if the customer is a Texan! All tongue in cheek about being treated badly as a Texan (I know sometimes we deserve it) ... not so much tongue in cheek about my thoughts on “Durango Time.”

I will miss this town, it has provided a great chapter in my life!

– XOXOX, L. Poje, via e-mail


For pets’ sake

To the Editors,

We all know how much Coloradoans love their pets. We work side by side with them, take them on outdoor adventures, and let them ride shotgun. Paradoxically, last year nearly 40,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in shelters throughout our state because there were simply not enough homes for them. These numbers extract a huge cost on our society, both to our wallets and our psyches. Taxpayers nationwide pay over $2 billion each year to collect, house, and kill unwanted pets. Less than 1 percent of these funds are used to put an end to the crisis through spay and neuter.

Petsmart Charities recently released the results of a nationwide study on attitudes toward spay and neuter and pet overpopulation. They found that the pet overpopulation crisis was grossly underestimated by their respondents. They also discovered that over 50 percent of litters are accidental. People intended to spay or neuter their pets but were not aware of the appropriate time to do it, or had simply procrastinated.

Here in La Plata County we have no excuse. The La Plata County Humane Society will subsidize 100 percent of the cost to sterilize up to 4 pets belonging to low-income households. Dogster’s Spay and Neuter Program provides trap-neuter-release services to any interested county resident. Although the programs have measurably reduced intake numbers and live-release rates, our shelter is often at capacity, especially for cats. We are not taking advantage of the available resources, and animals are suffering as a result. Neighboring Montezuma County, despite the efforts of the For Pets’ Sake Humane Society Spay and Neuter program, has one of the highest euthanasia rates in the state.

Please sterilize your own pets, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. One simple action can end the suffering and death of thousands of homeless pets.

– Wendy Haugen, director, Foundation for Protection of Animals







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