Thousands of puppies spend time inside the Amarillo Panhandle Humane Society, and many never get out due to a virus that can be costly to treat.
Parvovirus attacks cells in puppies, causing diarrhea, nausea and lethargy. The disease is contagious and can be life-threatening if not treated in early stages. Treatment for parvo can be costly- extended treatment can total more than $1,000. That's why many people looking to adopt puppies from the shelter choose not to take them when they test positive for the virus.
"We do the parvo test before the people pay," Humane Society Executive Director Jena McFall stated. "That way, if the puppy tests positive, they have the choice of leaving it with us instead of taking it home, getting attached and then having to lose it."
Some people have complained about adopting puppies who showed symptoms of parvo just days after leaving the shelter. According to Dr. Robert Ballinger of Palo Duro Animal Hospital, parvo can lay dormant inside the animals and though parvo might be active on the inside, the symptoms won't show for days.
"The puppy contracts the virus, they get a level of it. They're not going to start showing clinical signs-the vomiting, the diarrhea, the things we think of- for about five to ten days. During that incubation period, there's really no way to know they've got it."
McFall added employees of Animal Control pay special attention to the sanitation of the kennels at the shelter in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus.
"Animal Control does an awesome job at disinfecting the kennels," she said. "They clean two times a day. There is a heavy-duty disinfecting agency (sic) which is known to kill parvo and they do every kennel, every day, twice a day."
Puppies that are left behind after being tested and those already showing symptoms of the virus are humanely euthanized.
"No, we do not allow the animals to suffer," McFall stated. "It's a necessary evil."
McFall said she and her employees urge pet owners to learn about parvo so they will be prepared in case their puppies get sick.
"We have a flier that we give out to every adopter of a puppy and we suggest they read it. It's from the American Veterinary Medical Association. It's the most up-to-date information on parvo."
Click here for more information on Parvovirus.