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A SICK dog is mending at an Austinburg Township veternarian's office.



Vaccinations cost $125, while treatment costs $500 to $1,000

By MARGIE TRAX PAGE

Staff Writer

mtrax@starbeacon.com



AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP - - Paula the brindled mixed-breed dog didn't notice the cars whizzing past her as she stumbled among cars in the Tops Market parking lot last week.

Bone-thin and deathly ill, the dog's paws burned on the hot pavement as she went to each parked vehicle looking for kindness.

Vomiting, shaking and infested with fleas, 7-month-old Paula was taken in by the Ashtabula County Humane Society and treated at the Austinburg Veterinary Clinic by Dr. Becky Salinger. But Paula's test results came back with some bad news: She has parvo.

Devastating in puppies and highly contagious, parvo attacks the digestive tract lining and causes a disruption in a dog's ability to absorb nutrients or liquids. Symptoms are dramatic and include diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. Usually, infected dogs stop eating and develop foul-smelling, bloody, liquid stools.

While parvo can be a death sentence for a dog, Salinger said Paula is lucky.

"We caught this case early, and Paula is responding very well to treatment. Parvo isn't always fatal, and after 14 days, (Paula) will no longer be contagious," she said.

The virus can last a long time in the environment, perhaps nine months or longer if not killed by disinfectant. Rottweilers and pit-bull terriers are particularly susceptible to parvo.

Parvo is carried exclusively by dogs. Humans can carry the virus on clothing or shoes and infect unvaccinated dogs. The virus is most commonly transmitted via canine fecal matter and is not an airborne virus.

Salinger said parvo can be prevented easily with a series of shots, but many dogs don't get the complete series.

"The saddest thing about parvo is that it is completely preventable," Salinger said. "People don't understand that even adult dogs need this series of shots. It isn't one shot; dogs need the whole treatment to become immune," she said.

The average cost of the vaccination series is $125, but treating parvo can cost $500 to $1,000.

"It really is best to just prevent (parvo)," Salinger said.

Paula will be cured of parvo in two weeks and will need a permanent home. Though her medical bills have been reduced through Salinger's generosity, the humane society will have to pay for the balance for her treatment.

"This is a very friendly, very happy puppy," Salinger said. "She can't wait to get out of this quarantine cage to play. She is going to be a beautiful tall dog, and she will make a wonderful pet for almost any family," she said.

Humane society agent Colleen Fobes said Paula's placement is a top priority.

"Paula was found wearing a red collar, so we think she was owned by someone at some point. We hope to either reunite her with her owner, if they can prove ownership, or find her a new family," she said.

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