Published: Saturday, September 13, 2008
Hundreds of cases of the parvovirus have occurred in Pontiac this summer, killing hundreds of dogs.
Infected animals have been reported from about 180 of city’s streets this summer, particularly the last couple weeks.
This is a tragedy because most of the deaths could have been prevented.
The fatal virus has been around for years and there is a vaccine available that prevents dogs from becoming ill.
Unfortunately, too many pet owners are not fulfilling their obligations to the animal, themselves and the community by simply getting their dogs vaccinated.
There usually is a charge for the shot but that is part of the expense of having a dog.
Animal owners who fail to satisfy this basic requirement are not just neglecting their pet but actually abusing it.
The virus is indiscriminate. Every breed is susceptible to it, although rottweilers, dobermans and pit bulls catch it most easily and become the most ill.
The virus can be tracked on any surface where an infected dog’s feces has been, including the bottom of shoes or the tires of a vehicle.
A concentrate of bleach and water will destroy the virus from surfaces it has touched. It’s believed the virus can live for up to a year.
But the best way to fight the virus is by vaccinating your pet.
Part of the problem might be that people are not as informed as they should be. But there is information and help available.
The Animal Care Network in Pontiac is a nonprofit group that helps support low-income pet owners.
Its manager, Pam Porteous, has said that improper vaccination is a major part of the problem.
She says it’s also common for dogs in the city to be passed along several houses while they’re still puppies with owners getting one vaccine and telling the next owner the dog has been fully vaccinated, when it hasn’t.
Porteous urges people to make sure they have proper documentation when buying or just getting a puppy. She also stresses that puppies need a series of vaccines to build up their immunity and then they only have to be vaccinated once a year.
Taking care of a pet means more than just providing food and shelter. It means protecting the animals from harm and when possible, from illness.
Pets are wonderful. They can be fantastic companions. They are cute and cuddly as puppies and can be loyal and dedicated adult animals. The epidemic in Pontiac could easily be avoided if dog owners would simply do what they have an obligation to do — get their pets vaccinated.
If you can’t afford to do that, then you can’t afford to own a pet.