Rescue group concerned about possible parvovirus outbreak at Gary animal control
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org April 10, 2013 5:55PM
A foster couple, who requested their names not be used, work with Boone in their South Haven yard Thursday April 4, 2013. The 5-month old Lab-Pit Bull mix is recovering from a battle against Parvo. Friday | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
What is Parvo?
Parvo is a common and potentially serious viral disease in dogs. The virus is officially known parvovirus. The disease caused by this virus is commonly referred to as parvo. The virus first appeared clinically in 1978, and there was a widespread epidemic in dogs of all ages. Because no dogs had been exposed or vaccinated (the vaccine didn’t exist at the time), dogs of all ages died from the infection. The virus can “adapt” over time, and other strains of the virus have appeared since then, but properly administered vaccinations are the best protection.
Updated: May 12, 2013 6:03AM
Some Northwest Indiana dog rescue groups are concerned about the conditions at Gary Animal Control, which they claim have led to an outbreak of parvovirus among dogs.
Tracy Perrin was a volunteer rescue coordinator for Gary Animal Control for 18 months, but she quit the position recently rather than continue to place dogs that had parvovirus, heartworm, frostbite and kennel cough that they more than likely picked up at the pound.
“You can’t knowingly send dogs from your facility to rescue homes if they have parvo,” said Perrin, who works with Northwest Indiana Death Row Dogs and Reach Out Rescue. “They need to empty the pound to clean it thoroughly.”
Gary Police Cmdr. Pete Sormaz said the shelter was recently housing six dogs — none of whom were displaying signs of parvo. But he said Gary has a contingency plan with Lake County Animal Control to house any animals if the shelter is put on bypass due to an outbreak.
“Assistance from the Humane Society is expected to help resolve some of the issues experienced by our kennel with this recent outbreak,” Sormaz said in a statement.
Humane Society of Northwest Indiana director Betty Clayton said Gary contacted them about two months ago to assist in placing dogs.
“It’s great that they have rescue groups helping them out, but they can only take one or two dogs at a time,” she said.
Clayton has no knowledge on whether Gary has a parvo outbreak.
Perrin said the outbreak started around Feb. 25, when she dropped off some food and an animal control officer begged her to take two puppies, Huck and Finn. Huck came down with parvovirus two days later and Finn was sick within six days, she said. Since then, almost every other dog she’s rescued has come down with parvo.
Perrin and Sherri Christopher, who volunteers to rescue dogs, offered to professionally clean the pound, but their offer was refused.
“Normally, you’re supposed to quarantine the dogs, so an entire cell block unit is closed and scrubbed down top to bottom,” Christopher said. “There should have been a rerouting of animals; we should have not been taking animals in with a known problem.”
Perrin said she was told not to say anything about the conditions at the pound or they would stop giving her dogs.
“It’s not just parvo, which is the main thing that got me upset,” Perrin said. “They need to send the animals to Lake County where they will know how to treat them.”
Perrin said parvo, which can be fatal if not treated, has a hearty lifespan even if there’s a robust cleaning of a facility.
“Parvo can still be found if don’t they get the cracks and crevices, and it can last seven years,” she said. The virus has a three- to 21-day incubation period in dogs.
Gary Animal Control has been getting by with limited resources and donations from rescue groups like Perrin’s for years as budget constraints hit the city. The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board advised the city to get Lake County to take over its animal control operations, but the county said in 2010 that it couldn’t afford to take over the shelter and services.
“I just want to see the right course of action happen, and for them to do right by those dogs,” Perrin said.
Staff writer Teresa Auch Schultz contributed to this report.