By Leota Harriman
Puppies adopted out by Edgewood Animal Control at its annual Woofstock event Saturday had Parvo, a highly contagious and often fatal disease.
Edgewood Animal Control officer Mike Ring called the virus “devastating” for unvaccinated puppies and said it is always a risk at parks or anywhere people take their dogs.
He said seven puppies were adopted by people attending the annual event, and that when the remaining pups showed signs and were tested for parvo, he called those seven people. His advice to those people was to bring the puppies back to the town, where they would be euthanized.
“With what knowledge we have as far as animals recovering from this… it’s a very devastating thing,” Ring said, adding that two people elected to keep the puppies and see if they could nurse them through the illness.
Vaccination is the best prevention for parvo, which can remain alive in soil for extended periods. It is highly contagious, can be transmitted on shoes and other inanimate objects, and is most dangerous for puppies, Ring said.
“Those animals that contracted it were in cages,” Ring said, adding, “The individuals who did adopt them handled them.” He said dogs who had been vaccinated and older dogs would be less susceptible to the disease.
Asked if there is any risk to people, Ring said, “Very little chance of that.”
Edgewood Police Chief Fred Radosevich answered, “Not that I’m aware of,” when asked the same question. “If [people whose dogs came in contact with the puppies] have any other pets, they may want to get in contact with their vet,” he said.
“It was a very unfortunate incident,” Radosevich said. “There was no indication those puppies had any type of disease—they looked as healthy as could be. But that’s the way parvo is.”
Public events or public parks always mean some kind of risk of disease, Ring said, adding, “There is no reasonable way to try to control that.”
After the Woofstock event, the remaining puppies were euthanized, Ring said, and “only a few animals were left,” which are now in foster homes. A single dog remaining in the town’s kennels has been isolated, he said.
Ring said he has spent the week disinfecting the kennels and will continue that into next week. “The animals initially appeared in very good health,” he said. “Then they began to break with the disease. The onset is very sudden and effects are very devastating to the animal. It could happen to pretty much any animal we have. It’s a risk with stray animals we have no history of.”
Ring said a low-cost test for parvo can be done at a veterinarian. Symptoms in dogs include lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to fatal dehydration.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]