ANOTHER ADOPTION EVENT, ANOTHER SICK PUPPY
Last weekend a family adopted a puppy infected with parvovirus from Scalawaggles Pet Rescue at an adoption event at Civilized Nature Pet Supplies in Issaquah.
The family adopted the puppy, which they named Rubble, at about 1 PM on Sunday. Early Monday morning it began throwing up mucus. They took it to the veterinarian Monday morning where it tested positive for parvovirus.
Parvo is highly contagious. Unvaccinated adult dogs and puppies less than 4 months old are the groups most at risk. No drug will kill the virus. Vets can only treat their symptoms until their immune systems can fight off the viral infection. Puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems can still die after undergoing treatment.
The family returned the Rubble to Scalawaggles because they didn’t want their kids traumatized if he didn’t survive.
They paid $450 for the puppy but cancelled the payment before the credit card company processed it.
HOUSE TURNED INTO PARVO PETRI DISH
Unfortunately, returning the dog did not end their parvo nightmare because the virus can survive in the environment for up to a year.
So even though the family only had the puppy for less than 24 hours, every surface of their home the puppy touched, every piece of clothing they wore while holding it, and every part of the yard it peed or pooped could be contaminated with the virus.
And every time either they or the puppy touched a contaminated surface, they spread the virus to other areas of the home, making it a veritable parvo petri dish.
The only way to make their home parvo-free is:
- steam clean all their carpets and furniture
- wipe down all bare surfaces with bleach
- wash all blankets, clothes, and bedding in warm water with bleach
- remove or treat the contaminated soil in their yard
Adopting a new puppy should have been a happy event for this family. Instead, they have an infected house, a smaller bank account, and two devastated young children who lost their puppy less than 24 hours after adopting it.
PARVO PUPPY ADOPTED LAST MONTH DIES
Scalawaggles sold another puppy with parvo at an adoption event at Yummy Tummy Pet Supply in Covington on February 10th.
It died days after its adoption.
Michael and Carol (not their real names) adopted the puppy, which they named Bo.
Carol gave Bo to Michael as Valentine’s Day present. He lost his 18-year-old poodle last fall and until recently couldn’t consider adopting another dog.
Like the sick puppy adopted last weekend, Scalawaggles put this puppy up for adoption almost immediately after it arrived in Washington on February 8th.
On the drive home Bo began to cough. Michael also noticed he was congested. When he contacted Scalawaggle’s co-founder Sherry Halfon about it, she said Bo hadn’t adjusted to Washington’s cold, wet climate after living in a warm, dry region in California.
FIRST KENNEL COUGH, THEN PARVO
Bo’s symptoms didn’t clear up after a couple of days, so on February 10th Michael took him to a vet who diagnosed him with kennel cough.
According to PetMD, kennel cough is usually caused by “several infectious agents working together to damage and irritate the lining of the dog’s trachea and upper bronchii.”
None of the sources I checked said that a sudden change in temperature could cause kennel cough.
The vet also told Michael that because the incubation period for kennel cough is at least 7 days, Bo contracted it before Michael and Carol adopted him.
The next day, Bo stopped eating and drinking and began to vomit. Michael and Carol took him back to the vet on February 15th where he was diagnosed with parvo.
They left Bo at the vet for treatment, but two days later he died.
AN INFECTED DOG, THOUSANDS IN VET BILLS
A couple of days after Bo’s death, Michael and Carol learned he infected their other dog Cammie with kennel cough. Fortunately she’s ok now.
Bo’s death also left them with over $3300 in medical bills for Bo and Cammie’s treatment.
After about 3 weeks Ms. Halfon reimbursed Bo’s adoption fee.
She also said the rescue would post a fundraiser on GoFundMe.com to help them out with the vet bills.
As of today, no fundraiser has been posted.
I asked Yummy Tummy if they knew Scalawaggles sold an infected puppy at an adoption event at their store. They replied, “Yummy Tummy is not going to host +ANY+ adoption events going forward, Scalawaggles or otherwise.”
TWO SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
As I said in a previous article, Scalawaggles founders Sherry Halfon and Pam McBride are not dog rescuers. They are dog brokers. To them, dogs are pieces of merchandise to buy low and sell high.
If they were truly concerned about adopting out sick puppies, they would do two simple things before putting them up for adoption:
- Quarantine the puppies they bring to Washington for a few weeks to ensure they are healthy.
- Take every dog to a vet for a comprehensive exam.
That’s what responsible dog rescues do.
If taking these 2 steps would reduce/eliminate the number of sick puppies that people adopt from Scalawaggles, why don’t Ms. Halfon and Ms. McBride do it?
In my opinion, it all comes down to money.
PROFIT OVER PUPPIES?
I wrote previously that Scalawaggles’ website claims the organization found homes for 1468 dogs since it started in March of 2016. They sell puppies for $450 and adult dogs for $400.
After dividing the total number of adoptions evenly between puppies and adults, I calculated that Scalwaggles made $624,000 since Ms. Halfon and Ms. McBride founded the rescue in 2016.
That’s staggering amount of money for a small, 3-person, nonprofit rescue to make, especially in the first two years of its existence.
For Scalawaggle’s to sell that many dogs, they had to adopt out about 15 dogs a week. Quarantining the dogs and taking them a vet exam before adoption would reduce its income significantly because:
- Vet exams are expensive.
- They would have to have a proper facility to keep the dogs.
- The cost of feeding dogs/puppies for 4 weeks vs. 1 week is exponentially higher.
- They would have to pay for a kennel license.
But that’s not what Scalawaggles chooses to do. Instead, they bring dogs in and adopt them out as quickly as possible to make room for the next batch to sell. Slowing down this process would inhibit the rescue’s steady income stream.
NO EXCUSE JUSTIFIES SELLING SICK PUPPIES
People defend Scalawaggles because, they say, it still saves lots of dogs from euthanization.
This is a simplistic argument that ignores the ramifications adopting out sick dogs. What about:
- the pain/suffering sick dogs must endure because no one took them to a vet for treatment
- the other dogs in a transport these sick dogs infect
- the emotional distress on adopters and their families that watch their new dogs suffer and/or die
- the financial damage to adopters that spend thousands of dollars on vet bills to treat the sick dogs they adopted
- the health of an adopter’s other dogs infected by the newly-adopted dogs
- the cost to adopters to treat their own dogs exposed to the sick dog they just adopted
- the cost and disruption to adopters and pet store owners who must sterilize their homes and stores contaminated by sick dogs
Furthermore, what about the pet stores owners who never realized they hosted an adoption with one or more sick dogs?
Viruses like parvo can live for months, or even years unless they are cleaned properly. Every person and every dog in a contaminated store can spread it to places where it will infect other dogs.
Does saving some dogs from euthanization offset all these consequences of selling sick puppies?
I don’t think it does.
Regardless, if adopting out health dogs was a priority, Scalawaggles could implement new policies that virtually eradicate the chance of adopting out sick dogs.
Ms. Halfon and Ms. McBride don’t deny they have adopted out sick dogs. If they continue to ignore this problem, dogs will continue to suffer and/or die, and they will continue to throw the lives of more adopters and pet store owners into disarray.
RESPONSE FROM SHERRY HALFON:
Sherry Halfon sent copies of bills and screen shots to respond to some comments people made. Her main concern I think was responding to the statement that she pupped a dead puppy out of the crate with Rubble. She claims it didn’t die until after the event.
I can’t tell if the screenshots are talking about the same puppy but regardless, at least one of the puppies died. Whether or not it died before or after the event doesn’t matter to me.
The fact is another puppy died at Scalawaggles.
She also appears to blame a foster in CA infecting the puppies with parvo. I don’t know if it’s true or not but it doesn’t change the fact that if she had quarantined puppies until they were fully vaccinated she could have treated the parvo before putting them u for adoption.
And remember, more than a half dozen people have said they adopted other sick puppies from Scalawaggles.
Here’s her statement followed by the files she sent me: