An injury proved to be a life-saving blessing in disguise for an Ahousaht puppy that was recently diagnosed with the potentially fatal canine parvovirus.
The Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network helped transport the injured stray puppy to a vet in Port Alberni where routine test results discovered the virus, according to CARE’s executive director James Rodgers.
“It wasn’t even a suspected parvo case, it was just an injury, so it caught us all off guard,” Rodgers told the Westerly News. “We strongly suspect there’s at least a handful of other cases.”
With at least one confirmed case of the deadly virus, CARE has sprung into action and is helping to transport other puppies to Port Alberni to be tested and, if necessary, treated.
“For each pup that goes through this, it’s terrifying and horrible…We just need to get on top of this and make sure that it’s not an annual happening and that’s through vaccinations and spaying and neutering,” he said. “The biggest problem is when dogs with the virus start getting moved from one area to another… Another big concern, aside from a very terrible death for these puppies, is that it can also get into the wolf population.”
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and life-threatening disease that can spread rapidly through an infected dog’s feces and vomit. It can be prevented through vaccinations and treated by veterinarians if discovered in time. Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargic behaviour and Rodgers urges all West Coasters to keep an eye on their pets.
“If they can get to vet care sooner than later, chances are really good for survival. There’s care that can be done, but it’s not home care. It does require vet services… Home care is not a viable option. It’s not about waiting this thing out. If those symptoms are presenting, we need to start talking about getting those animals out now. They need professional care. It’s not something we can do at home and it’s not something CARE can do. It takes vets and vet techs and the facilities where they operate,” he said adding dogs should not be travelling between communities for the time being.
“We need to keep this contained and the animals within communities need to stay at home. It’s the feces and the vomit that this is really spreading quickly through, so keeping everybody at home and safe is the best way to go.”
He added that vaccinations are both vital and hard to access for remote West Coast communities and CARE is working on setting up local clinics in short order.
“We’re responding to the situation case by base but, in terms of the broader picture, we are talking to vet clinics about getting vaccinations happening across all the communities,” he said.
“Our longterm plans are to have regular vaccination clinics along the Coast and make those vaccinations much more easily accessible to everybody, so that we can avoid this in years to come. That’s a longer term solution, but we’re very actively working on that and plan to have clinics happening certainly within the next month if not an emergency one in the next week.”
He added the virus has been prevalent in Port Alberni this summer.
“There’s been a bit of a spike in Port Alberni and, of course, we’re seeing some out here. It’s not that we don’t see it from time to time, but it does sound like it’s an elevated time for the virus,” he said.
“Really, the name of the game is prevention. So, we need to do more vaccinations in all the communities out here on the Coast.”