Nonprofit treating influx of dogs with parvovirus

San Antonio Pets Alive! says rain is driving rise in cases

SAN ANTONIO – Behind a latched door in the San Antonio Pets Alive! clinic, 15 dogs sat in quarantine Friday afternoon, sick with a contagious and potentially deadly virus.

The San Antonio-based nonprofit said it has been treating an unusually high number of dogs coming in from Animal Care Services with the parvovirus, which it blamed on recent rains. 

"We're usually pretty steady, and we're usually pretty full, but I have never seen it this busy in my time here," said SA Pets Alive! assistant clinic director Carolyn Hinojosa.

Hinojosa said the number of cases in the past few weeks has been unusual, and following KSAT's visit to the clinic on Marbach Road on Friday afternoon, the number of infected dogs swelled again, Hinojosa said. The group brought in seven more infected dogs, as well as three others they suspected may have parvo, she said.

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that causes an infectious gastrointestinal illness in puppies and young dogs. Without treatment, it's potentially deadly, according to the American Kennel Club.

Parvo is spread through an infected dog's feces and it can live in the ground for years. With the recent rains, the virus is brought up out of the soil, Hinojosa said.

She also said there may be a new strain of the virus.

"It's not responding the way that it has in the past six years that we've been treating it," she said.

While the staff hasn't been able to save every dog, the ones it has saved are looking much happier. As of Friday afternoon, seven dogs sat at the clinic, recently clear of the virus and ready to be fostered or adopted.

Most of the dogs the nonprofit is treating were strays, Hinojosa said. Properly vaccinated dogs should be safe from the virus, she said.

"But if they're not vaccinated, I guarantee you they're going to get it, because it's everywhere," she said.

Hinojosa said treating parvo costs a minimum of $500 per puppy. More critical cases that require IV treatments are even more expensive.

San Antonio Pets Alive! is asking for the public's help due the parvo intensive care unit being at full capacity.

Donations and volunteers are needed to help treat and care for the puppies. 

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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