Yesterday I learned that a woman adopted a puppy that had parvo from the Tacoma dog rescue group K9 Northwest. The puppy died yesterday, just a few days after it was adopted.
Here’s what I know so far:
The puppy was an 8-week-old shepherd mix named Ava. She was adopted on May 24 at the Petco off Tacoma Mall Boulevard. K9 Northwest told the woman who adopted Ava that she was abandoned at a shelter that couldn’t take young puppies so they asked K9 Northwest to take her.
K9 Northwest also told the woman that Ava was current on all her vaccines.
Barely 24 hours after Ava was in her new home she because extremely ill. Ava was diagnosed with parvo virus. The vet said it was the worst case of parvo he had ever seen. Ava struggled for about a week to hang on but yesterday she died.
The vet also said that “it was very evident that Ava had never received vaccinations” even though K9 Northwest said she had.
The total of Ava’s vet bill was $4607. Add that to Ava’s adoption fee and the total cost of adopting Ava was almost $5000. And she only lived a few days.
To make matters worse, a 7-month-old Rottweiler named Oliver that played with Ava before she was taken to the hospital now has parvo. He’s currently in the hospital, and no one knows if he will pull through or not.
So far, Oliver’s vet bill is over $1000.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with parvo, it’s a highly contagious viral disease that usually attacks the intestinal tract. It is transmitted by people, pets, or object that come in contact with the infected dog’s feces. Puppies, adolescent dogs and dogs who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus.
Because the parvo incubation period is 7-14 days, Ava had to have the parvo virus before she was adopted.
I contacted K9 Northwest founder Melissa Lingk to get her side of the story. Here is her response:
“They’re refusing to send me any information showing that the Puppy even have parvo not that I doubt them but they refuse to let us know anything. The puppy came and had her first series of vaccines at the shelter and was at that time also given her health certificate to cross that line and seen by the vet at that time. We had her approximately a week and a half in a foster home by herself that has never had parvo. She was a very active and happy puppy at the time of adoption with clear eyes and nose with no suspicion of anything. On rare occasion they can pick up parvo from the shelter before we receive them and it appears that that’s what happened with this puppy. When they call us and let us know we offered to take the puppy back and treat her at no cost to them but they chose to use their vet instead. We are extremely saddened that something like that happened but we in no way shape or form intended to adopt a sick dog to them. If there are any strange words or typos I apologize I’m using talk to text on my phone.”
“We’ve been doing rescue for a very long time and have very rarely ever had problems. Unfortunately once in a blue moon somebody can get sick and we offered to help but they chose not to accept.”
“Add (Had) we suspected anything we would have never adopted her out! We even offered to take her back and treat her parvo and then give her back if they still wanted her at no cost to them.”
A friend of Ava’s adopter told me “they definitely didn’t offer to take her back.” She also said that while K9 Northwest did offer to refund the adoption fee, Ava’s adopter hadn’t received it yet.
To be fair, Ms. Lingk asked to see a death certificate and vet bill in order to send the refund and Ava’s adopter has refused to send it because she doesn’t trust Ms. Lingk with the information.
I do think it is possible that the Ava was infected while she was in foster care for K9 Northwest. The incubation period for parvo is 7-14 days. K9 Northwest had Ava for a week and a half. If Ava contracted parvo in the first few days she was with K9 the disease could still have shown up the day after Ava was adopted.
I’m also disappointed the Ms. Lingk refused to name the shelter that sent her the puppy. Ava infected one puppy in the one day she had been alive with her new family.
If there has been an outbreak of parvo at that shelter, public officials and the general public should know about it so health officials can be sure other animals weren’t infected and the building was properly cleaned. Parvo is resistant to most disinfectants and can live for months. Ms. Lingk insists there wasn’t a parvo outbreak, but why would we just take her word for it.
Ms. Lingk did tell me that K9 Northwest is disbanding after they adopt out their remaining puppies. The organization has been operating without registering with the Washington Secretary of State’s office since December of 2013.
I will post Ava’s health/vaccination certificates when I receive them from Ms. Lingk. I will also let you know how Oliver (the puppy Ava infected with parvo) is doing when I hear anything new about his condition.
One final note – Always ask how long a rescue group has had a dog, puppy or adult, before you adopt it.
Most responsible rescue groups will keep a dog in their care, regardless of whether it’s a puppy or an adult, at least 2 weeks before they put it up for adoption to ensure it doesn’t have any diseases/viruses.