An outbreak of the deadly Parvo virus has killed an estimated seven dogs over the past month and is putting renewed strain on the cash-strapped Humane Society.
Four puppies were dumped at the Humane Society shelter on Monday suffering from the highly infectious virus which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. Two of the puppies had to be euthanized and two others were being treated at Island Vets this week.
Two other dogs from the shelter have been treated for the virus and the Humane Society is desperately seeking funding to help pay for the medical bills of affected animals.
Island Vets has treated around 40 dogs for the virus over the past month, according to vet Andreea Sleahtenea.
She said approximately seven dogs had been euthanized, either because they were too sick to be treated or because their owners had been unable to pay for treatment.
Lesley Walker, a director at the Humane Society, said treatment was expensive and the Humane Society was struggling to cope with the increase in medical bills caused by the outbreak.
“We are struggling to survive right now. We don’t have any corporate sponsorship and we don’t have money available for these extra medical expenses. We have no money at all.”
She said dogs that have had their full range of vaccinations, including annual booster shots, would be immune to the virus.
“Unfortunately, there are a large amount of people in Cayman who buy puppies from backyard breeders and don’t get them vaccinated,” she said.
There are several dogs at the shelter that have yet to complete their full course of vaccinations and the Humane Society is appealing for people to foster these animals in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading further.
She urged dog owners to make sure their pet’s vaccinations were up to date and called for greater regulation of backyard breeders to help ensure all puppies were properly vaccinated before being sold.
Dr. Sleahtenea said the outbreak was the worst Cayman had seen in several years.
“We saw the first case about a month ago but it started to get really bad in the last two weeks. We are consistently seeing three or four a day.”
She said dogs could recover if they were treated early enough but managing the symptoms can be expensive and some owners opted to have their dogs euthanized.
She said it was important that all dog owners got their animals vaccinated.
“The disease is completely preventable if you do the right things in the beginning,” she added.