I felt very bad for a client we saw last night. He presented to us around 8pm with his new puppy in tow. He had adopted it from a local rescue organization. Just prior to leaving the pound, the puppy vomited once. Apparently, the shelter worker were unworried by the vomiting.
At arrival, the puppy had been "owned" for approximately 3 hours. In that time with his new owner, he'd developed diarrhea, had vomited again, was not interested in food, and was just lying around. Did I mention this is a LABRADOR puppy? A breed you typically have to scrape off the ceiling due to rambunctiousness?
When I examined the puppy, he was extremely lethargic, had a temperature of 103.6, was completely dehydrated (my finger stuck to his gums, they were so dry), and he didn't wag his tail or respond much to me at all.
The parvo test was screamingly positive, and the puppy had never been vaccinated. He also had 14 littermates back at the shelter. I had to deliver the bad news to the puppy's new owner, go over parvovirus in detail, and help him decide what to do. The poor guy was torn in half. He'd already expressed regret that he couldn't adopt the whole litter! And now, here he was, trying to decide if he should treat the puppy for $800+, send him back to the shelter, or euthanize.
In the end, after much agonizing, he decided to send the puppy back to the shelter. He wasn't in a financial place to accept the burden of an expensive disease with an unknown outcome (although we do save the vast majority of these puppies). He had the money to vaccinate and give appropriate preventative care, but treating parvo was another story. The rescue actually paid for outpatient treatment (subcutaneous fluids, an injection of antibiotic, and Cerenia for nausea) with plans to take the puppy to a veterinarian this morning.
It was an unsatisfying and sad case all around. On the other hand, the rescue came through with treatment, so at least the puppy will have a fighting chance.
Moral of the story: don't adopt sick, vomiting, or lethargic puppies from rescues/pounds!
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