Puppy diagnosed with parvo

GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management closed unexpectedly Monday after a puppy was diagnosed with a highly contagious canine disease.

A puppy staying at the shelter was diagnosed with parvovirus, an illness that affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts, director Paul Miller said. In order to keep the disease from spreading, the shelter needed to be closed for deep cleaning, he said.

On Monday, the office wasn’t taking in any new animals and was closed to the public. Miller said he hoped to have it open again as early as today but said the staff was taking it hour by hour.

Parvovirus primarily affects puppies that are 4 months old and younger and senior dogs, he said.

All dogs are given a vaccination against the disease within 24 hours of entering the shelter, but that wouldn’t prevent a dog that already had parvovirus from developing symptoms.

Because the other animals have been vaccinated, he doesn’t expect there to be an outbreak.

Still, the staff is taking extra precautions to disinfect the shelter from top to bottom and is bleaching the grass outside the shelter, he said.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, parvovirus spreads through contact with contaminated kennel surfaces, food, bowls, dog supplies and even through the hands of people who have handled infected dogs.

Because it is resistant to heat and cold, the virus can survive in environments for a long period, making it imperative that areas contaminated by a sick dog get disinfected with bleach, according to the association.

Miller said the infected animal received the vaccination but was likely infected before then.

“The vaccine is typically effective,” he said. “Unfortunately, this go-round, the vaccine didn’t work.”

He said the staff is playing it by ear to see if the puppy will recover from the disease. According to the veterinary association, there is no drug to treat the illness; the puppy’s immune system will have to fight it off, and staff can prevent dehydration by ensuring the animal drinks enough water.

“Any vet will tell you it’s kind of 50/50 when it comes to parvo,” he said. “It all depends on the dog and its immune system.”

In 2008, the shelter was closed for a week after an outbreak of parvovirus. During that outbreak, two dogs were euthanized, and two others were successfully treated by a veterinarian.

Because the virus is easily spread, all who adopted pets or worked in the shelter during the past few days are advised to watch their dogs for symptoms, which include sluggishness, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and severe and bloody diarrhea, according to the association.

Residents whose dogs or puppies show symptoms of the disease are encouraged to call their veterinarian immediately.

Police will handle any animal-related issues while staff at the shelter focus on reopening.

Residents with issues are asked to call dispatch at 317-477-4400.

“All hands are on deck to get the shelter up and running,” Miller said Monday afternoon. “We want to make sure nobody else gets sick.”

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.