The Mae Bachur Animal Shelter will reopen today after being closed since Nov. 3 because of a parvo outbreak.
At least one dog adopted from the shelter, run by the Humane Society Yukon, has died from the virus.
Parvo attacks a dog’s small intestine and causes them to experience severe flu-like symptoms. It spreads when dogs come into contact with feces from infected animals, said Kim Friedenberg, a veterinarian with Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre.
On Oct. 31, Austin Holden and his girlfriend adopted their first dog from the shelter, a lab cross who was about five weeks old. Her name at the shelter had been Bubblegum, but they renamed her Madison.
The following Monday, she became sick. On Tuesday, she tested positive for the virus. She died on Friday.
The incubation period for the virus is between three to 10 days, said Holden. The shelter knew about the outbreak before his dog became sick, he said.
“Had we known over the weekend that the shelter knew about the parvo outbreak, then we probably would have gotten our new puppy down 24 to 48 hours sooner and gotten her started on treatment,” he said.
Holden first learned about the outbreak on Tuesday, after one of his colleagues went to do some work at the shelter and saw a sign posted saying there was a parvo outbreak. Holden visited the shelter himself and was told by shelter staff that they had known about the outbreak since the weekend, he said. One of his dog’s siblings who was adopted also had parvo, he said.
On Tuesday, the shelter posted a notice about the outbreak on its Facebook page, but did not contact families who had adopted animals to let them know about the outbreak, he said.
Holden’s girlfriend asked the shelter if there had been previous outbreaks there, he said. She was told there hadn’t been, he said.
Later, he learned it had been closed in September because of the virus, he said.
The shelter is cleaned with bleach every day, said Shelley Cuthbert, president of the Humane Society Yukon.
There are 60 dogs at the shelter waiting for adoption, said Cuthbert. All dogs are vaccinated, she said.
Jordi Mikeli-Jones, a previous humane society president, said she believes this death could have been prevented. There are too many dogs at the shelter, she said.
In the past, there have been a couple outbreaks at the shelter each year, said Mikeli-Jones. “It’s a very sad disease.”
It is very difficult to fully remove the virus from an area, said Friedenberg.
There’s no way to tell what dogs will get infected with the virus, but stress can play a part, said Friedenberg. Infected dogs need to be kept in isolation. While his clinic does not deal with the shelter, a crowded environment can increase stress, he said. Younger dogs have a greater risk of contracting the virus. Dogs are vaccinated at eight, 12 and 16 weeks, and annually after that, he said.
Now that the virus has entered his home, Holden is hesitant to adopt another dog, he said.
The shelter has said they will give his family a new puppy at some time, said Holden. But it expects them to cover half of the veterinarian costs, he said. Under the adoption agreements, the shelter is not responsible for reimbursing the $250 adoption fee, said Cuthbert.
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