Puppy showed signs of parvovirus day after it was purchased
A Kirkland couple who bought a mix breed puppy last June from Fairwood Pet Center in Renton said it was diagnosed with parvovirus the day after they brought it home. It died a few days later.
In late June, Sara Lawr and Kevin Klinicke bought Blanche, a 2-month-old yorkie/havanese mix for $1111.41.
The day after they brought Blanche home the puppy wouldn’t eat or drink. Sara called the store to let them know and was told that was normal and to keep giving her Nutri-stat, a high calorie dietary supplement which was one of the things the store required them to buy. She said she was also told Blanche’s lack of appetite was normal and that she would eventually eat if they kept giving her Nutri-stat.
But Blanche still didn’t eat or drink, and she also developed intermittent vomiting and diarrhea.
That night Kevin took Blanche to Animal Emergency & Specialty in Kirkland where she was diagnosed with parvovirus. The veterinarian who examined Blanche said that because Parvo has an incubation period of about 5-7 days the puppy had the virus when the store sold her to them.
Sara and Kevin wanted to do whatever they could to save Blanche, so they put up a $3000 deposit for her treatment and left her at Animal Emergency & Specialty, which provides 24-hour care.
They ended up spending about $7000 to save her.
Pet store manager claimed vet’s diagnosis was wrong
The next morning, Sara called the Fairwood Pet Center to tell them what happened. She spoke with the store manager Amy Lotz. Here’s how she described their interaction to me:
“I was called by the store manager, Amy Lotz, who dismissed everything I was trying to tell her, talked over me, and said she thought it was a parasitic infection, a spirochete (which is actually a family of bacteria, NOT a parasite). I asked her where she got her veterinary training from, a rhetorical question obviously, and I told her that it is incredibly inappropriate of her to give an opinion on the diagnosis.”
Ms. Lotz then asked for the name of the clinic that treated Blanche because “she said she wanted to call them to give them her opinion and recommendations on how to treat Blanche.” Sara said she was “outraged” that Ms. Lotz wanted to call the vet treating Blanche and give him a diagnosis.
Later, Ms. Lotz said she was going to ask Dr. Tracy Wood, the vet at Animal Healthcare Center in Renton, to call the vet hospital and give them the parasite hypothesis. While I don’t know if Dr. Wood ever called Blanche’s vet, she did call Sara and offered to treat Blanche at her office.
Both Sara and the attorney she hired thought Dr. Wood’s relationship with the Fairwood Pet Center was a conflict of interest. Not only was she a close friend of the owner’s wife, but Fairwood requires people who buy puppies from them to take their new dog to Dr. Wood’s practice within 7 days of its purchase. If they don’t, Fairwood’s health guarantee “will not be valid.”
Sara declined the offer as she was happy with the treatment Blanche was getting at Animal Emergency & Specialty, and more importantly, it provides 24-hour emergency and specialty care which Dr. Wood’s practice does not offer.
Pet store owners claim puppy had parasites
Eventually, Fairwood Pet Center owner Dennis Ford contacted Sara. She told me “he gave me the same treatment that Amy did, bullying me, talking down to me, trying to tell me that it can’t be parvo, that it’s instead a spirochete.” He eventually turned Sara over to his wife who also berated Sara and refused to believe Blanche had parvo.
Mr. Ford did offer to give Kevin and Sara store credit or a refund if they returned Blanche, but they didn’t want to do this because they were concerned he would euthanize her. They also had already gotten attached to the puppy and wanted to continue her medical treatment because, at that point, she could have still recovered from the virus.
According to Sara, Mr. Ford said he would consider paying Blanche’s vet bills “only if she was transferred to the care of Dr. Wood.” She said she wouldn’t move Blanche because the puppy was already quarantined, and she wasn’t willing to compromise Blanche’s health by moving her. She also wanted Blanche at a facility that provided 24-hour care.
Furthermore, she was concerned about the potential conflict of interest due to Dr. Wood’s close association with the Ford’s and their store.
Puppy’s parvo vaccinations not given according to manufacturer’s instructions
Sara provided me with a copy of Blanche’s vaccination records from the breeder that she got when she bought Blanche. The records clearly state Blanche was vaccinated for parvo she was 5, 6, and 7 weeks old.
However, numerous sources, including this one from the ASPCA, state that the vaccination schedule for parvo should begin when the puppy is 6-8 weeks old and given in 3 or 4 week intervals until it’s 16-20 weeks old.
The label on NeoPar®, the parvovirus vaccine that Mr. Ford told Sara was used on Blanche, says that the vaccine should be given when the puppy is 42 days old and then in 14-21 day intervals until the puppy is 18 weeks old. Blanche’s vaccination records show she was given all her parvo vaccines by the time she was seven weeks old.
Even the pamphlet from Revival Animal Health that the breeder used to track vaccinations said that parvo vaccines should be given at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks, and 14-16 weeks. I’d love to know why the breeder didn’t follow its recommendation.
According to peteducation.com, the reason for waiting to vaccinate puppies for parvo and administering it in 2-4 week intervals is because “high levels of maternal antibodies present in the puppies’ bloodstream will block the effectiveness of a vaccine. When the maternal antibodies drop to a low enough level in the puppy, immunization by a commercial vaccine will work.”
I can’t say whether or not Blanche contracted parvo because her breeder didn’t administer the parvo vaccines properly, and I can’t say why the breeder didn’t follow the generally accepted vaccination schedule for parvo because the Ford’s refuse to provide any information about the Blanche’s breeder.
What I can say is that it appears the breeder didn’t follow the parvo vaccination schedule recommended by several credible sources, including the company that made the vaccine and the company from which they bought the vaccine they gave Blanche.
Store ignores questions about parasite diagnosis, vaccination schedule
I sent an email with these specific questions to Fairwood Pet Center to get the Ford’s side of this story:
1. Did you have a vet examine the other puppies in your store for parvo after you learned that the puppy you sold Lawr and Klinicke had it?
2. Parvovirus is extremely difficult to eradicate and can live for up to a year. After you learned the puppy had parvovirus did you take any measure to clean your store to ensure it had no traces of parvovirus after you learned the puppy you sold to them had it?
3. Ms. Lawr said you, your wife, and your store manager Amy Lotz claimed the puppy had some sort of parasitic infection. Why did you insist the puppy had that instead of parvo?
4. Are you aware of any other puppies you sold that had parvo and do you know if the breeder where you got the puppy has had problems with parvo.
5. Why did the breeder deviate from the standard vaccination protocol for parvo?
Instead of answering these questions, “The Fairwood Pet Center Team” sent me an email with the following accusations against Sara, Kevin, and the veterinarian that diagnosed Blanche with parvo:
- “this couple has been making false claims since late June 2015”
- “we have made multiple attempts to resolve the issues with Klinicke/Lawr through email and direct contact”
- “Klinicke/Lawr failed to produce any evidence from a licensed veterinarian supporting any of their claims”
- “The veterinarian would have been required by law to notify the State of Washington in writing of a suspected case of Parvo. We have been unable to find any such action”
Regarding Fairwood’s accusation that it didn’t receive any evidence, Sara told me the following:
“The only medical information they asked me for was that the diagnostic information be sent to their preferred vet’s office for a second opinion. I didn’t send it because they were explicitly trying to get a second opinion from a vet that is a close personal friend of the store owner, and I found that to be a conflict of interest and inappropriate. I would have been fine with a neutral 3rd party second opinion, but the store owner explicitly said he would only entertain a diagnosis reached by his close personal friend. The store was trying to interfere with blanche’s treatment already, with the store manager trying to call and interject her own diagnosis, so I didn’t authorize that any information about her care could be shared with them. The store owner never asked us for any medical records for his own information, and never gave us any way to send information to him. We still have no contact information for him other than a general store email that any employee has access to.”
Also, both the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association and my veterinarian’s office told me that Washington veterinarians are NOT required by state law to report suspected or confirmed cases of parvo, so Fairwood’s claim was false.
Fairwood Pet Center didn’t respond to any of the questions I sent them.
Since they got nowhere with the Ford’s, Sara and Kevin filed a complaint with the office of Washington Attorney General that contained many of the same arguments/accusations they sent to me.
After it was notified of the complaint, Fairwood sent a response to the AG’s office claiming Kevin and Sara didn’t follow the guidelines of the contract they signed and accusing them of extortion.
Fairwood’s response to the AG cc’d two people: Mark Patterson of the Cavalry Group and attorney Kurtis Reeg of Goldberg, Segalla.
Store defended by Missouri group that lobbies for dog breeders & puppy mills
Based in Missouri, the Cavalry Group lobbies for dog breeders and puppy mills. It opposed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Protection Act in Missouri and formed a group, headed by Mr. Patterson, to defeat it. The Cavalry Group also “partners with animal owners and animal related businesses to counter legislative attacks perpetuated by radical animal rights groups.” Mr. Reeg is an attorney works with the Cavalry Group.
Many people consider Missouri to be the puppy mill capitol of the the US. It’s the source of 30 percent of the nation’s dog breeding facilities according to a 2010 report by the Better Business Bureau.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Protection Act was written to strengthen Missouri weak dog breeding regulations with “radical policies” like limiting the number of dogs a breeder could have (50) and requiring dogs to receive an exam once a year and to receive prompt treatment of any illness or injury.
Here are some snippets from an opinion piece by Mark Patterson about the Act:
- “After a bitter battle over the slimly won 2010 Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act Ballot Initiative where the Humane Society of the United States spent $4.8 million dollars on propaganda in Missouri to create a “crisis” where one didn’t exist”
- “Ironically, the Humane Society of Missouri will sell you a mutt with behavioral problems for $300 if you are interested. The conflict of interest is obvious”
- “The Cavalry Group is in the midst of this legal action and will pursue all remedies to protect Missouri jobs and ultimately Missouri families. Hopefully we can help save a Missouri industry made up of real Missouri families with a great history and heritage.”
The Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation reported that the Missouri Ethics Commission “disciplined Mark Patterson, the treasurer of the Alliance for Truth, and imposed fees against them both in the amount of $61,500. This action is in response to a multitude of alleged violations regarding the disclosure of campaign finances used in their failed attempt to defeat Prop B. ”
So how is all this relevant to the Fairwood Pet Center?
The response I received from the Fairwood Pet Center directed me to send any addition questions to Mr. Patterson of the Cavalry Group.
Cavalry Group claims “inexperienced” vet administered parvo test incorrectly
I sent him an email with the same questions I asked Mr. Ford. Like Mr. Ford, he ignored the questions I asked and instead attacked the diagnosis of veterinarian who treated Blanche. Here’s a sample of what what he said in the email:
“Our initial review indicates no Parvo but a false Parvo snap test. Inexperienced vets have not figured out yet that a puppy recently vaccinated for Parvo will show a false positive using the snap test only. In addition, if you review the records you will see that the vet clinic actually didn’t complete the appropriate lab tests for Parvo, nor did they treat for Parvo or take any appropriate protocols for Parvo.”
The “inexperienced” vet that diagnosed Blanche with parvovirus was Dr. Mark O’Hanlon at Animal Emergency and Specialty in Kirkland. He was named one of the top veterinarians in the Seattle area in 2011, 2013, and 2014 by Seattle Met Magazine. He’s been a licensed veterinarian since 2001.
I don’t know what “records” Mr. Patterson examined, but the ones I saw clearly stated that Dr. O’Hanlon tested and treated Blanche for parvo. Specifically, the report I saw said that Blanche was tested when she was admitted (“Ran Parvo test on arrival. Parvo test POSITIVE. negative for Corona”).
And the record of Blanche’s first day at the vet hospital said, “Blanche presented last night for vomiting and diarrhea. A parvo test was performed and was a strong positive.”
Mr. Patterson’s claim that “a puppy recently vaccinated for Parvo will show a false positive using the snap test only” is equally dubious. Idexx, the company that manufactures the SNAP Test, clearly states on its website that “the information we derived from studies performed in the 1990s did indicate that there may be a potential interference with vaccinated canines 4–15 days post vaccination with other available assays. However, this recent University of Wisconsin study showed that the “SNAP® Parvo Test did not detect canine parvovirus 2 (CPV-2)in their feces.”
Mr. Patterson’s claim that a SNAP test recently vaccinated puppy will show a false positive is particularly ironic given that one of the vaccines used in the Wisconsin study was NeoPar, the same vaccine used on Blanche.
In case you need more irony, NeoPar was developed by Dr. Bob Page, a veterinarian who, according to Mr. Patterson, is a nationally known puppy veterinarian who consults with the Cavalry Group. In his email to me, Mr. Patterson said Dr. Page developed “the most effective parvo vaccine on the market.”
By the way, in spite of the opinion of the “experts” at Fairwood Pet Center, Blanche’s hospital record from her second day at the hospital clearly states “Fecal float: no parasites noted.“
Veterinarian stands by his parvovirus diagnosis
Sara showed Mr. Patterson’s claims to the veterinarians at American Emergency and Specialty. Here is their response:
“We stand by our diagnoses and the excellent care we provided to Blanche. Unfortunately, even with advanced diagnostic tools and modern medicine, not all patients with parvovirus enteritis can make a successful recovery, especially when they develop complications like Blanche did. Our detailed medical records speak for themselves. Because our focus is on helping pets and their families rather than mudslinging, we have no further response to Mr. Patterson.”
Although I’ve never met Dr. O’Hanlon, I think his diagnosis of Blanche carries a lot more weight than anyone at the Fairwood Pet Center or lobbyists from the Cavalry Group, which collects of dollars a year from dog breeders and puppy mills to oppose efforts to strengthen dog breeding laws and provides legal protection for dog breeders.
In my opinion, based on information I’ve seen and Dr. O’Hanlon’s diagnosis, Blanche died from parvovirus which she contracted before Kevin and Sara bought her.
Adopt dogs & puppies from shelters or rescues, not pet stores
We should also remember that this story is about more than a puppy that died of parvo. Kevin and Sara were emotionally devastated after Blanche died, and their suffering was exacerbated when they were accused of lying and extortion by Mr. Ford and Mr. Patterson.
They suffered a significant financial cost as well. Between the money they paid for Blanche and the vet bills for her treatment, they lost about $9000.
Kevin and Sara’s experience with Fairwood Pet Center demonstrates why I encourage people to adopt a dog from a reputable shelter or rescue group instead of pet stores that get their puppies from breeders.
For a fraction of the cost, you have an infinitely higher chance of getting a healthy dog that has been properly vaccinated that you can take to whatever veterinarian you choose.
You also won’t be berated and treated like a criminal if any problems arise.
Rest in peace, Blanche.