Humane Society seeking donations to help sick puppies

There are eight puppies at the Prince George Humane Society happy to be alive and waiting for treatment.

"They are lucky to have survived," said executive director Angela McLaren.

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The pups, who were brought to the shelter from a northern community in B.C. are outgoing and playful despite developing parvovirus (CPV), a highly contagious infection that specifically targets dogs.

"The pups are only six weeks old. They are very lucky," McLaren said. "And we could not have done it without the help from the Ospika Animal Hospital."

The hospital made room for the needy pups, even thought the odds of survival were slim.

"We couldn't believe they all made it," said Kelsey MacNeil, animal health technologist at the hospital. "It was because they acted quickly. This made a huge difference as to why they all survived."

If left untreated, there was about a 95 per cent chance that the puppies would not have made it, according to MacNeil.

The cost of treatment for each pup is about $1,200 a day and $10,000 to treat them in total.

So far, the humane society has received $3,000 in donations.

But besides funds, the non-profit organization is also looking for foster families for four of the remaining puppies.

"Four puppies are already with foster families but we still need four more," McLaren said.

"We need a parvo friendly home where all animals in the home have had vaccinations and who have no intention of getting puppies in the future because parvo lives in the environment for up to seven years. We prefer a home with no dogs and no pups under seven months."

The parvo infection manifests itself in two ways.

The more common form is intestinal, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and weight loss.

The less frequent form is cardiac, which attacks the heart muscles in very young puppies between six weeks and six months old, often leading to death.

"With early vaccinations these infections can be reduced," MacNeil said.

"Some people think that one shot will do it but it's a series of three shots from as early as eight weeks old. You have to follow up with the full set of vaccinations."

And until then, MacNeil suggests that puppies avoid dog parks and are not placed in contact with pups from other litters.

The intestinal form of CPV affects the body to absorb nutrients and animals infected with become dehydrated and week due to lack of protein and fluid absorption.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with other infected dogs, or indirectly, by the fecal-oral route.

Parvo is found in heavy concentrations in a dog's stool so other uninfected dogs can contract it easily if sniffing the infected dog's stool.

"It only takes a speck of dirt on your shoe to contaminate everything," MacNeil said.

The virus is also resistant to most cleaning environments and changes in weather.

For those interested in fostering the Shih Tzu cross puppies, applications can be filled out online.

"This is rewarding for anyone interested," said McLaren.

"For those who want to have the experience of having an animal but not owning one, this is a great experience and it's also an opportunity to see if adoption is right for them. All in all, it's about making a difference."

To donate or to foster a puppy, visit www.pghumanesociety.ca.

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