Over the past few months, the Washington Humane Society has seen a 400 percent increase from 2014 in animals coming into our care from the community that are testing positive for parvo. A diagnosis of parvo was considered a death sentence just a few years ago, and still is in many homes and shelters. Thankfully, our dedicated WHS team have been working heroically to save the lives of these dogs who have come to us in critical need.
Tank was surrendered to WHS when it was determined that his previous owner was not caring for him properly. His ribs and hip bones were visible, and he was dehydrated and lethargic. After being transported to community partner Friendship Hospital for Animals, he tested positive for parvo and began treatment for this very serious, and sometimes fatal, condition.
With around-the-clock care, Tank’s condition began to improve, and he was able to continue healing in the home of a special WHS medical foster family who was able to give him the attention he needed, including administering medications and subcutaneous fluids. With his body on the mend and his appetite improving, Tank’s sweet and gentle personality began to shine through; he was shy and nervous, and craved attention and socialization. WHS staff worked with him extensively to get him ready for adoption, and after a month of intensive medical care and lots of love, we are happy to report that Tank is settling into his forever home!
- What is parvo? Parvo is a highly contagious, but preventable viral infection that affects dogs, raccoons, cats (known as Panleukopenia), skunks, and other carnivorous wildlife. The virus attacks the rapidly dividing cells in the intestines, causing ‘shedding’ of the intestinal lining. The heart can also be affected. Symptoms include lethargy, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), fever, dehydration, and death (especially in very young puppies).
- How does parvo spread? Parvo is spread through feces and vomit of infected animals, and can remain in the environment for weeks to months. For example: A puppy goes for a walk in the park where an infected animal has been. The virus is in the soil where the puppy walks and then when he gets home, he licks his paws, which have the virus particle on them. The puppy can then become infected if his immune system is not yet protected with vaccination.
- How can parvo be prevented? The most basic vaccine that puppies and kittens are given prevents infection. This is why routine vaccinations are so important. It is also important to keep puppies and unvaccinated dogs away from other animals with unknown vaccination status until they are fully protected. Remember, even if the animal doesn’t directly interact with an unvaccinated animal, the virus can be in the environment.
What is the typical cost to treat an animal infected by parvo? The treatment cost can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars, especially because infected animals must remain quarantined to prevent exposure to other animals. Our most expensive case cost nearly $8,000. There is also a heavy toll on staff due to the extra time and care involved in each case; there is constant testing, cleaning, and special protocols to follow to ensure that every animal in our care remains safe and healthy.
In the past several months, WHS has spent thousands of dollars treating animals coming into our care infected with this severe virus. YOU can help us save these precious lives. If you give a gift to our animals right now, your donation will automatically be matched - meaning you will have DOUBLE the life-saving impact!