Puppies quarantined after parvo outbreak

Hannah Grover
Zandy Hensley, a kennel technician at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter, hands out toys to dogs on Tuesday at the shelter. The shelter has stopped making dogs available for adoption because of an out outbreak of parvovirus.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Regional Animal Shelter has stopped making puppies available for adoption after several of the young canines at the shelter tested positive for parvovirus.

The shelter is attempting to eliminate the disease and will not allow any of the puppies currently at the shelter to leave the building, according to a press release.

Parvovirus, also known as parvo, attacks the intestinal tract of dogs, and is able to withstand heat, cold and common disinfectants, according to the press release. Symptoms include diarrhea, lethargy and vomiting. It is transmitted from dog to dog through feces and vomit, and it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop.

According to the press release, some dogs that have parvo do not show symptoms but can still transmit the disease to other dogs.

The disease was brought into the shelter in mid-June by unvaccinated puppies that had been exposed to the virus before being taken to the shelter, according to Stacie Voss, the shelter director.

She said by the time the shelter learned of the presence of the disease on June 24, it had already adopted out some puppies that had been infected. The shelter has attempted to contact everyone who adopted a puppy in the last two weeks to warn them of the outbreak. Voss said if anyone has adopted a puppy in the last two weeks and has not been contacted, they can call the shelter at 505-599-1098.

Since June 15, the shelter has euthanized 17 puppies that tested positive for parvo, Voss said.

The outbreak came in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year for the shelter.

"It couldn't have happened at a worse time," Voss said.

She said people can help prevent future outbreaks by vaccinating their animals and helping prevent unwanted litters of puppies.

"Spay and neuter would help a lot," she said. "We've had a ton of puppies brought into the shelter."

Because the shelter is not adopting out or releasing any of the puppies, it will have limited amounts of kennel space for incoming canines. The shelter staff is also asking community members looking to find new homes for their dogs to try alternative rehoming methods for the next two weeks.

The shelter is working on transferring healthy adult dogs to partner shelters and to foster homes, according to the press release. Healthy adult dogs currently have a discounted $25 adoption fee to free up kennel space for quarantined puppies.

While the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter is experiencing an outbreak of parvo, the Aztec Animal Shelter has been fortunate and does not have parvo in its puppies, according to Rosemary Cain, the support service secretary. She said that it does have a large number of puppies available for adoption.

“We are calling it puppy palooza,” she said.

Barb Fincher, who works at Southwest Pet Supply, said the pet store has had an outbreak of parvo this year and has had to take extra precautions in light of the outbreak. She said the store refunded the money of people who purchased the sick dogs, which included huskies and papillons.

“We’ve taken extra precautions of not letting people hold the puppies anymore,” Fincher said.

Fincher said parvo is highly prevalent in San Juan County, and the pet store suspects customers brought the disease into the store without realizing it.

“When you come in, you can carry parvo on your hands, your shoes and your clothes,” Fincher said.

She said the pet store does not always detect the presence of parvo before selling the puppies.

“A lot of times, you don’t even know they had it,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.