Calgary

Puppies at Calgary shelter regain appetites, playful attitudes after virus scare

Faline, a puppy with orange fur, white paws and striking blue eyes, was happy to get out of her kennel at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) on Friday. She peered around the room with eyes wide open as she was held by volunteer Pati Holloway.

AARCS reached out to the community to save young dogs from parvovirus

Pati Holloway, who has been volunteering at the shelter since June, said dogs like Faline have seen a marked improvement. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Faline, a puppy with orange fur, white paws and striking blue eyes, was happy to get out of her kennel at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) on Friday. She peered around the room with eyes wide open as she was held by volunteer Pati Holloway.

A couple of weeks ago, Faline — along with nine other puppies — wasn't feeling so well.

Back then, Faline was barely moving, Holloway said. Volunteers would pick her up, and she would "just sort of flop in your arms."

She wasn't eating, and her kennel was a mess.

In November, AARCS discovered 13 rescue arrivals at the shelter had potential cases of canine parvovirus, often referred to as parvo. Of those 13 puppies, 10 became sick. Three died.

Parvo is a highly contagious virus for puppies and young dogs, and those that do not receive vaccinations are most susceptible.

But due to treatment provided by AARCS staff and volunteers, the puppies that survived the initial outbreak are now doing much better — including Thelma.

"It makes you feel good. They're psychopaths now!" Holloway said, holding up Thelma. "They're so hungry, there's so much energy. It's so heartwarming to see them turn around like this."

Ten puppies are regaining their appetites and playful attitudes after a parvovirus outbreak left one Calgary animal shelter scrambling. 1:04

Deanna Thompson, executive director of AARCS, said donations from the community enabled the shelter to acquire two IV pumps and a syringe pump.

"Christmas is the time of giving, and we're so appreciative that the [community] thought about the animals at this time of year," Thompson said. "We're just happy to be one of those [organizations] that people choose to give to."

Thompson said the animals have now all been released from veterinary care and the majority have been moved into quarantined foster homes. Five of the dogs remain at AARCS until the quarantine period concludes, at which point they will be put up for adoption.

"These guys are still contagious to other animals for two weeks, so they need to be contained within a home, not go out into the public," Thompson said. "They're stuck here in the shelter, unfortunately, due to the remaining quarantine homes being full."

Three of the puppies that tested positive for canine parvovirus had to be euthanized, but the others are now well on their way to recovery. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Puppies housed at quarantined foster homes cannot go out in public, and homes must have a disinfected area, such as a mudroom. 

Some quarantined homes do have other animals, Thompson said, as canine parvovirus is not contagious to animals like cats or rabbits. It is also not contagious to other dogs that have been vaccinated.

"So it's a very preventable virus," Thompson said. "These guys wouldn't have it if all the dogs were vaccinated."

They should have no long-term effects due to this virus.- Deanna Thompson, AARCS executive director

Thompson said it's difficult to know where the puppies picked up the virus because they arrived at the shelter from different communities.

Once the puppies come back from foster care, they will be spayed and neutered and vaccinated again before going out for adoption.

"They should have no long-term effects due to this virus," Thompson said.

With files from Terri Trembath

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