by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
To heal is to touch with love that which we previously touched with fear. —Stephen Levine
Well, here we are again folks. Two months into the New Year and we have a new President, more wacky weather, and some yahoo named Gorilla Glue Girl. Yup, here we are. I was hoping for a more glorious and rose-filled start to 2021, but it’s been more like a lousy rain-soaked beginning. In our family, we’ve been hit with some health issues, which came screaming out of the blue like a flock of Wizard of Oz monkeys. My younger sister and her boyfriend fell ill with the COVID virus, but both have recovered nicely. Thank goodness, because just one more day trapped together might have landed them on the 6 o’clock news. My older sibling was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and it seemed like a huge black cloud showed up and threatened to soak her very existence. Luckily, after surgery to remove the tumor, her results are the best the doctors could have possibly hoped for. Her oncologist has recommended some radiation, and for now, her prognosis is excellent. And then there’s my eighty-six-year-old mother, who’s scheduled to go in for surgery to remove a small carcinoma on her leg. Oye. So, the Hunter clan has already been tried and tested in just sixty days, which is why the good people at Bev Mo enjoy seeing us on a regular basis. Because life is too short to pass up those five-cent wine sales.
These days, everyone in the world is obsessed with their health, and their family’s well-being. Companies are sending employees home for the slight sniffle, kids with coughs are shooed to bed by worried parents, and just walking out to the mailbox can seem like a life-threatening journey. But, we must have our Vanity Fair, National Inquirer, and US Weekly. Priorities, people, priorities. And just as COVID-19 has given us humans a good reason to head for the hills, another dreaded illness is lurking out there and causing great harm to our canine population. At Animal Rescue of Fresno, we’ve had our fair share of dealing with the wicked Parvo virus, which is highly contagious, particularly for puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Without the proper treatment, it is potentially dangerous. And just like a wildfire sweeping through a dried out forest, Parvo can spread through the canine population in a flash. It’s mean and heartless, and it doesn’t care if your dog is a purebred German Shepherd or a Heinz 57 from the local shelter. And in the case of a litter of pups that ARF recently took in, Parvo doesn’t even care if you’re cute as a bug’s ear. Puppy breath or not.
These five scrawny Chihuahua mixes were surrendered along with their mother, and another dog, which may or may not have been from a previous litter. Unfortunately, it was obvious that these dogs were not living the best life in their owner’s care. At just five weeks old, they had been kept in a large crate from the time they were born. The horrendous stench that emanated from their plastic prison was something out of a horror movie. Luckily, I wasn’t privy to it, but I was told it was a combination of urine and poop. Yum. It was so bad, our intake coordinator told them to toss the crate into the garbage because no manner of scrubbing or disinfecting would make it habitable again. These unsanitary conditions were the perfect breeding ground for Parvo, since the virus spreads from an infected dog. I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine the filth those poor dogs were living in, and how miserable they must have been. I get grossed out enough when we’re putting dogs to bed in the evening, and at least one frightened one pees all over me. Aw, c’mon, is that really necessary? Guess its laundry night again.
Well, you can probably guess the next scenario; not too long after they arrived, all the puppies began to exhibit signs of Parvo. They were promptly put into quarantine and isolated from the other ARF dogs. Symptoms can include lethargy, fever, vomiting, weight loss, weakness, and bloody diarrhea. About 85% of infected dogs that do not receive proper treatment will die of dehydration, resulting from the severe vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs that do receive treatment have about an 80% chance of survival. Treatment includes antibiotics and IV fluids to keep the animals hydrated and prevent any secondary bacterial infections. Unfortunately, two of the five puppies could not be saved, and succumbed to the virus. The remaining three — Noodle, Nugget, and Peanut — have been cleared and are happily scampering around in a puppy yard side kennel. The bad news about Parvo is that there is no cure. The good news is that it’s completely preventable. Vaccines for puppies are usually given in a series of four shots, or depending on the vet, until the puppy is sixteen weeks old. A booster should be given one year later. Most people don’t know that vaccinations don’t have to cost a small fortune, and there are many clinics around town that offer affordable pet care. Check out Hope Animal Foundation, or Valley Animal Center. Remember, a tiny poke in the pup could save you a lot of pain and heartbreak later. Just don’t forget a treat for good behavior; now who’s the good boy?!
Our little Parvo survivors are a happy lot, and very active. You’d never know they were all such sick kids just a short time ago. Their mama, Coconut, and possible sibling Tiny, are trying to keep up with all that energy. There’s a lot of wiggling and squirming, and Big-Time Wrestling going on in that kennel, as they rejoice in feeling a whole heck of a lot better. They’re not quite ready for adoption, but as soon as they are, we will post them on our website. One important thing we tell our potential adopters, is that their new puppy is not allowed on the ground until they have all their shots. Parvo is like the Rocky film franchise; it never goes away and just keeps coming back. It can live in the great outdoors for 5-7 years. Which is why we ARF volunteers start cringing whenever the rainy season begins. Once the ground gets wet, the dormant Parvo underneath comes rising to the top, rearing its ugly head one more time. We have discovered that with a bit of preventative maintenance, we can stop this stubborn beast before it’s too late. Hosing down kennels and yards with bleach on a daily basis can drastically improve our chances of remaining Parvo free. Back off, you nasty bug!
After adopting a puppy, the first thing people want to do is show him off to everybody. Your greatest temptation is to immediately take him to Petco and buy tons of toys and treats. Great. Fine. Just leave your new pal in the car with a friend or family member, and YOU go in alone. I get it, he’s sweet and cuddly, and the most adorable thing on the planet. You love him, he’s everything, and your life has been changed forever. However, do you really want strangers, especially during this pandemic, to pet your new pup? No, you do not. So resist the temptation, and keep him safe. Pet stores may be the Holy Grail for kibble and Kongs, but just think about it for a minute. That would be like taking your newborn baby directly from the hospital to your nearest Costco. Do you really want ninety-seven shoppers coming up to your child and putting their germy hands on her? Yeesh. Um, I’m just here for the diapers folks, so don’t make me go all Mommie Dearest on you. A little bit of patience can go a long way, so shield your vulnerable puppy from the big wide world until he is fully protected. All of the ARF dogs are vaccinated before they leave with their forever family. Most rescue dogs have been through a lot, and many have never had a home of their own. Let’s give them the best shot to finding one, and living a long and happy life.
Animal Rescue of Fresno
4545 E Dakota Ave.
Fresno, CA 93726
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. We also have a pet Facebook group for KRL and we would love to have you join!