Dog adopted from Carson City Animal Shelter had parvo |

Dog adopted from Carson City Animal Shelter had parvo

by Maggie O'Neill

A stray dog adopted earlier this week from the Carson City Animal Shelter was diagnosed with parvo and euthanized Thursday at Dayton Valley Veterinary Hospital.

Dirk, a basset hound mix, had been with his owners for less than two days.

The shelter reacted immediately to the news of Dirk’s death, and within hours Thursday had tested an older stray that was picked up with him.

The results, back by 2 p.m., were negative.

Pat Wiggins, animal control supervisor at the shelter, said both dogs were in pretty good condition when they came in.

“Usually with parvo, you see a little lethargic behavior,” he said.

He believes Dirk had parvo before he came to the shelter.

The owner of the dog was told to clean her rugs, furniture and vehicle and to throw out the toys she had purchased. She must also alert dog owners in her neighborhood to the fact that Dirk had parvo.

Sierra Veterinary Hospital in Carson City will continue follow-up testing on the stray to ensure it is clean of parvo. Dogs can test negative for canine parvovirus, or CPV, when the contagion is recent, Wiggins said.

“We’re going to put (the stray) in isolation and watch him and see how he does. We could give him the vaccine now, but it would be a gamble. It could promote the parvo, or it could give him protection.”

Wiggins said the vaccination occasionally activates the virus.

Dirk showed no symptoms of parvo while he was at the shelter, which was less than three days. If the dog had shown signs, he would not have been adopted out, Wiggins said.

The stray dog was also free of parvo symptoms, which include smelly or bloody stools, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, loss of appetite and high fever.

“There was not a runny patch of diarrhea anywhere,” Wiggins said. “Usually when you’ve been around it, you start to recognize (parvo’s) smell.”

Parvo is highly contagious among dogs and can live in dog feces for up to five months.

The shelter is cleaned every day with bleach, which is thought to prevent the spread of the virus.

“A cleaner environment, I couldn’t imagine,” Wiggins said.

Parvo typically occurs in puppies less than 5 months old. The virus prevents the lining in dogs’ digestive systems from absorbing nutrients and liquids. A puppy’s immune system is not fully developed, making it more susceptible to the virus.

Wiggins said other dogs at the shelter will be monitored for symptoms. Dogs close to Dirk and the stray will be tested.

“The main thing we’re going to do is what we do every day, which is keep our eyes on the animals,” Wiggins said.

Dirk’s owner said the dog vomited several times in the two days she had him. The vet told her he could be adjusting to his new home.

When she took him in Thursday for a checkup and shots, the vet noticed blood in the dog’s stool and tested him for parvo.

Treatment would have cost thousands of dollars.

“It’s heartbreaking for everybody,” said the dog owner. “I don’t know if there’s a way to avoid it in the future. If they had room, they should really try to keep the dogs longer.”

Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.

Facts about parvo

• Parvo can be carried to your dog through your shoes, hands and even car tires. It can live for several months.

• Parvo, which came to light in 1978, is similar to feline distemper.

• Puppies are most difficult to treat.

• Rottweilers and doberman pinschers are thought to be particularly susceptible to parvo.

For information on parvo, see or