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Austin Pets Alive!: Orvis Parvo Puppy ICU Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The grant helped fund Austin Pets Alive!'s Parvo Puppy ICU, which takes in and treats puppies and dogs that have been sickened with or exposed to parvovirus from the municipal shelter of Austin, Texas, and other shelters in central Texas. APA’s groundbreaking Parvo Puppy ICU provides the intensive, quarantined care needed to manage parvo at 1/10 the cost of treatment in a regular clinic.

Every one of these animals otherwise would have been euthanized. Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious, viral disease that causes extreme vomiting, diarrhea, and dangerous levels of dehydration. It is fatal if left untreated. In city and county animal shelters across the country, due to the threat of contagion, as well as the duration and typical cost of treatment, the many thousands of puppies testing positive are routinely euthanized every year. Yet parvovirus can be treated through a fairly simple, seven-day regimen of medicines and supportive care.

How many pets did this grant help?

The Parvo Puppy ICU treats around 500 puppies and dogs every year. Since its founding in 2011, the program has saved more than 2,114 dogs for which no other lifesaving treatment was available.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Tootsie Pop was pretty sick when she arrived at Austin Pets Alive!’s Parvo Puppy ICU on Aug. 21, 2015. She had come down with the extreme vomiting and diarrhea that parvovirus causes. Most puppies who contract parvovirus, or who are even exposed to it, are immediately euthanized in shelters, but, sick as she was,Tootsie Pop was lucky. Austin Pets Alive! was alerted about her condition and was ready to admit her to the quarantined ICU where APA staff have become highly skilled at treating this highly contagious disease.

Tootsie arrived at the very end of the clinic’s day shift after a long car ride from a shelter in a city several hours away. She also had Demodex mange, which had caused a skin infection, and her gums were ulcerated from the mange. Staff immediately started her on a continuous drip of IV fluids and antibiotics, while treatment was begun for her mange and for the tapeworms she was discovered to have.

Tootsie Pop got sicker before she began to get better. Over the next few days she had a lot of vomiting and bloody diarrhea from the parvovirus in her system. Clinic staff monitored her closely, supporting her with an IV drip of synthetic proteins, and began treating her for anemia. To help her survive, she had to be syringe-fed with baby food. She barely moved, and had to be encouraged to stand and walk for a few minutes from time to time to keep her from developing joint problems. Yet, despite feeling crummy, she almost always wagged her tail when ICU staff came into her run to treat her.

Eventually her body was able to fight off the virus. Tootsie Pop stopped having diarrhea and started eating a little wet food on her own. On Aug. 29, just eight days after she was admitted, she was discharged from the ICU. Amy, a member of the clinic staff, took her home for some much-deserved spoiling and to ensure she was eating enough as she recovered. Now, Tootsie Pop has regained much of her strength and is already getting up to puppy antics. Her gums have healed and her skin is improving fast. She loves to be out in her new sunny yard, or in her foster mom’s lap, or cuddling with O’Neill (second photo), another graduate of the Parvo Puppy ICU, who was adopted by Amy earlier. Tootsie Pop comes back to the clinic when Amy is working to hang out with another recent Parvo Puppy ICU grad, Ragnar (third photo). Austin Pets Alive! expects that she’ll find a forever home soon and grow up to be another healthy, happy pup, ready to give and receive as much love as any other dog. Meet Tootsie Pop:

Austin Pets Alive!’s Parvo ICU, the first of its kind in the nation, treats around 500 puppies and dogs every year at about 1/10 the cost charged in private clinics. It has graduated over 2,100 “parvo puppies.” The ICU has consistently maintained survival rates of 85-88%, outdoing the performance of other clinics; and 100% of the puppies that recover because of this groundbreaking program are adopted. With funding from the Petfinder Foundation’s Orvis grant in 2015, it will go on to save hundreds more puppies who would not have had a chance at life at a traditional shelter.

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