JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- When four puppies were dropped off at the Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter on July 27, 2012, they seemed healthy. After being evaluated and vaccinated, they were placed in the general dog population. A few days passed and the pups, a boxer/lab mix, started to get sick. They ended up testing positive for the parvovirus.
"With the parvovirus, they can be carrying the virus and not show any symptoms and until they start showing symptoms, you can’t test them. They will not test positive unless you see symptoms. At the time when they came into the shelter, they had no symptoms. When we put them back into the dog population, still no symptoms. They were back there two days before they displayed," explained Lisa Junghans, the shelter director. She says the puppies were brought in from the Westwood area of the city.
"Parvo is a severe, debilitating, potentially life-threatening disease. It is one of if not the most contagious diseases that affects dogs and unfortunately, it’s a disease we see way too commonly in this area. Parvo, in this part of the state, is an endemic disease. It is always present," Dr. Mark Stenstrom, veterinarian at the Animal Care Clinic in Junction City.
Without the resources to treat the dogs at the shelter, the four puppies were euthanized, along with another sick puppy, a Shar-Pei mix, that was being housed in the cage next to theirs.
"It is the symptoms of the virus that will cause death in the dog- vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, lack of desire to eat, they give up eating and then eventually the diarrhea and the dehydration will kill them.. They have all been euthanized because there’s no way to treat this, especially not in this type of environment. You get a 50/50 chance regardless if you treat them so to keep them in this environment and try to treat them, you can’t do it. It requires a veterinary stay in a veterinary hospital and thousands of dollars per dog," Junghans told 13 News.
As a result of the virus, the shelter has quarantined 35 dogs, closing its canine population to the public for now. WIBW crews were not permitted to get footage in that area. In the meantime, staff members continue to monitor the dogs for any symptoms in an effort to control and eradicate the disease.
"Right now, we are bleaching, bleaching, bleaching everything which we do every day. It’s just a very deep clean on a daily basis and a wait and watch situation- watching every animal and making sure we’re not seeing any symptoms with every dog that’s back there and that will continue," Junghans said.
"Vaccinate your animals because that is a big part of why we have this problem. If people would start vaccinating and keeping their animals vaccinated, we wouldn’t see the parvo problems we’re seeing," she urged dog owners.
"If you vaccinate your dog and you vaccinate them properly and you keep them up to date and you complete the series of shots when they’re puppies, you really don’t have to worry about the virus.... Keeping them inside, avoiding other dogs isn’t going to solve your problem. Parvo can be spread from yard to yard, house to house, dog food bowl to dog food bowl, by flies and other insects. You just need to keep them up on their shots," Dr. Stenstrom added.
If there are no other outbreaks, dog adoptions and drop offs will start again on August 20th. Patrons can still drop off cats and other pets besides dogs.
The director is asking members of the community who want to surrender their pets to the shelter, to hold on to their dogs as long as possible.
"We’re having a lot of problems with people wanting to surrender right now... Animals are still coming in through Animal Control and people leaving their animals here at this building overnight. So things continue to come in but we can’t let anything out and it’s putting us in an overcrowded position and I would rather not have to euthanize," she said.