Austin Pets Alive! First-Ever Parvo Puppy ICU is Saving Thousands of Lives
Austin Pets Alive! is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the entire country and one of Austin’s most renowned non-profits. They have effectively and transparently implemented and maintained comprehensive, innovative programs designed to save the animals most at risk for euthanasia. One of these programs is their Parvo Puppy ICU, which now saves young pups at one-tenth of the costs compared to private veterinary clinics.
Known simply as “parvo”, the parvovirus is a highly contagious, life-threatening virus that rapidly infects the cells in a dog’s body, predominately in the intestinal tract. Parvo spreads primarily through contact with an infected dog’s feces, which means if you or your four-legged loved one steps in some parvo-infected dog poop, your pup could be at serious risk.
Given their natural vulnerabilities, young puppies are the most susceptible to parvo. Fortunately, the simple solution is vaccination and there’s two widely available medicines to help: a 5-in-1 vaccine called DHLPP (which protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza) and a 4-in-1 DAPP (which protects against canine distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and the parvovirus).
These vaccines are ideally given early — between six and eight weeks of age — and then every three weeks after that until a puppy reaches four months old. Austin Pets Alive! is adamant that, until the vaccination series is complete, puppies should stay away from all potentially infected public ground — like dog parks, hike & bike trails, and sidewalks.
The Parvo Puppy ICU
The first of its kind, APA!’s Parvo Puppy ICU provides shelters an alternative to euthanasia for puppies that contract parvovirus. Naturally for many euthanizing shelters, young puppies with parvo could quickly become too expensive and burdensome to care for — thus, leading to being put down.
Eager to address this vulnerable segment of dogs being killed, Austin Pets Alive! started placing puppies that contract parvo in quarantine — separating them from their puppy-peers — and maintaining cross-contamination protocol with consistent care and treatment in order to save more lives.
Signs of parvo once meant imminent euthanasia for puppies at the City of Austin shelter. Now, the city now calls in Austin Pets Alive and gives the same day deadline to pick up the puppies and start treatment. The disease takes about a week to treat and once they are free of parvo, these amazing pups go on to lead normal, healthy lives and are highly adoptable!
Each parvo puppy costs APA! about $20/month or $250/year to treat, so the number of lives APA! can save is directly related to your donations. The Parvo Puppy ICU has over an 88% save rate, which is incredible considering most puppies arrive off of the street and well after the recommended start time for treatment.
More Parvo Puppy ICU facts
- The Parvo Puppy ICU saves around 500 puppies yearly
- The ICU has rescued more than 3,000 puppies from death at other shelters
- The protocols instituted at the ICU allow treating parvo at 1/10th the cost of a private vet clinic
- The average cost for treating each case of parvo is around $200
- The ICU is now becoming a center for research into parvo treatment that will someday transform veterinary medicine and lead to thousands more puppies saved across the country