Manager: Shelter in constant battle with parvo

KINGMAN - The annual Kingman sickly season is not only hitting humans, its hitting animals.

A woman who did not want to be identified told the Miner Thursday that she had adopted a puppy from the Western Arizona Humane Society Shelter in Kingman on Feb. 19 and had to put the dog down on Wednesday after it was diagnosed with parvo.

Parvo is a virus that causes a dog to have diarrhea and vomiting and to act lethargic, according to www.workingdogs.com. Some dogs become so dehydrated that they die or have to be put down. Puppies are particularly susceptible to it because of their immature immune systems.

Shelter Operations Manager Erin Kenyon confirmed that the woman had adopted the dog from the shelter.

"Oh, I don't doubt that we have parvo," she said. The shelter employees clean all of the kennels twice a day with a 12 percent bleach solution and a disinfectant, and also clean and disinfect a kennel after an animal is adopted and before a new animal is put in.

"We also vaccinate animals almost as soon as they hit our welcome mat," Kenyon said. "We've had several veterinarians come through and tell us we couldn't do any better, but we know its not enough."

Many animals brought into the shelter are strays, she said. Employees have no way of knowing what diseases the animals may have been exposed to or been vaccinated against.

Animals brought to the shelter are given a full series of vaccines and then placed in a quarantine room for at least three days to see if they develop anything.

Signs of parvo can appear as soon as 24 hours after a puppy has been exposed, Kenyon said.

According to workingdogs.com, some dogs are just carriers of the disease and don't show any symptoms. The virus is spread through an infected dog's feces and is extremely hardy, but it can be killed using a bleach solution.

Because the disease is so contagious, it's hard to tell where the puppy might have picked it up, Kenyon said. It could have been exposed before it was brought to the shelter, after arriving or after it was adopted. However, this is the first puppy adopted from the shelter in several weeks that was diagnosed with parvo.

Kingman's mild climate doesn't help. It doesn't get hot enough or cold enough to kill off the virus, she said, so there is a nearly year-round problem with parvo in the area.

"It's not just a shelter problem, it's a community problem," Kenyon said. "It needs a community fix."

If all of the pet owners in Kingman would make sure to vaccinated their pets properly it would go a long way in preventing and reducing the spread of diseases such as parvo, she said.