Employees at a local animal shelter have made several disturbing discoveries in the past couple of weeks.
Dogs and puppies are left dead, or dying, in the shelter’s overnight drop boxes.
Many of those animals were personal pets, sickened by the same preventable illness.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Danyelle Harker, an employee at the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter.
Harker makes a living helping animals, but she says a typical day of work for Idaho Falls Animal Services should not begin like this:
“I found the little poodle that was nearly dead in the drop box,” Harker said, of an incident that happened about two weeks ago.
Harker’s boss, Irene Brown, can vouch. Discoveries like the poodle have been happening a lot lately.
“Recently we’ve had several puppies — even some adult dogs — that have been left in our drop boxes that actually have parvo,” Brown said.
Parvo is a virus that’s incredibly contagious between dogs. In its most common form, it wears away at a dog’s intestines, causing vomiting, diarrhea and extreme pain.
Treatment isn’t always effective, and could cost more than $500.
Prevention, however, is extremely effective and a tiny fraction of the price.
“A simple vaccine,” Brown said, is all a dog needs to prevent parvo. “Most of the local vets will charge about $30.”
While prevention is key, there’s another big problem.
Brown believes many of the sick dogs left in the drop boxes were personal pets. The boxes should only be used for strays and law-enforcement purposes.
“We’re not here to judge you,” Brown said of surrendering an animal. “We’re just here to try to do what’s best for the animal.”
Brown realizes there are many reasons to part with your dog.
If you can’t afford the vet bill, just bring the dog to the front desk and ask for help.
“In the drop box, it’s going to expose other animals to the disease,” Brown explained.
The shelter charges a $22 surrender fee to drop a dog off in person, but Brown says she’s willing to make accommodations for anyone who’s struggling financially.
“If you can’t afford the vet bill, and we don’t have the resources to get vet care for you or help you out with the vet care, we’ll definitely at least put the animal down,” Brown said.
Parvo is usually not contagious to humans or cats.