Humane society and community members voice concern after puppies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Humane society and community members voice concern after puppies die from parvovirus

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- A local humane society is among many who have contacted 27 News after a recent investigation into two puppies dying from the parvovirus. The owners say both animals were purchased from the Furry Babies pet store inside Janesville Mall.

The story has sparked a community-wide conversation, including the creation of a vocal Facebook group that is planning a peaceful protest Saturday afternoon outside the mall.

The group was formed after members heard how Brittany Thompson and her friends lost their new puppy Chevy to parvo less than two weeks after buying him from Furry Babies at the mall. They say he died New Year's Day after countless sleepless nights of vomiting, severe diarrhea and dehydration.

27 News was also contacted by another couple who lost their dog on December 1st. They say it was purchased from the same store  and died a week after they bought it. Since our original story aired several additional owners have come forward with complaints against the company.

Representatives from the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin also contacted 27 News a few hours after the story aired.

"It's terrible. Whenever you have puppies and you hear of things happening like contracting parvo, it's so heartbreaking," Executive Director Brett Frazier says.

Staff members at the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin recently experienced a case of parvo themselves. Frazier says it happened this past Summer after an adoption event. They were contacted by one of the owners who said their puppy was showing signs of parvo.

"It was a litter of nine puppies. One broke out and we were able to notify all the other owners right away. We said hey, we're going to take care of this," Frazier says.

Staff members say the treatment cost the humane society thousands of dollars, but they were able to save all eight of the other puppies. Frazier says parvo cases happen, but it's how you deal with them that's important.

"How do you prevent an infection from becoming an outbreak? It's how you're set up in terms of animal handling animal welfare, sanitation protocols," Frazier explains.

Shelter veterinarian Penny Coder says the virus can survive in an environment for nearly a year if it goes uncleaned. She says young puppies with developing immune systems are highly susceptible.

She says their policy at the shelter is to vaccinate puppies after they reach four weeks and then to vaccinate them again every two weeks until they are four months old.

"I kind of wonder what exactly is the protocols that other places use. I hope they're as good as ours, because I feel like we have the best model possible," Coder explains.

27 News was also recently contacted by the organizer of Saturday's protest outside Janesville Mall. Animal rights advocate Robin Bente says the goal of this peaceful protest is to educate the public and to inspire change.

"It would be great if we could get the city of Janesville to put an ordinance into place making it illegal for them to sell these dogs, but really the biggest thing would be to educate people," Bente explains.

Organizers of the protest say they've reached out to Janesville city council members regarding the creation of a new city ordinance. 27 News has reached out to these council members to get their take on this idea, but we haven't heard back from them at this time.

Bente says similar ordinances have been passed in a few dozen municipalities across the country. She says some of these ordinances only allow for the retail sale of shelter dogs or rescued animals and not the sale of animals from breeders.

"I used to work at a humane society for a few years and we saw a lot of dogs come from those stores. I've always known where those dogs come from and I've always tried to steer people in the right direction as to where to get a dog and how to make sure they're healthy and come from a good place," Bente says.

Representatives of Furry Babies Inc. released this statement to 27 News:

"Furry Babies is a small business and family oriented business. The owners and employees get great satisfaction out of providing puppies to hundreds of people and families each year. Unfortunately, a few animals become afflicted with parvovirus. This virus can be contracted anywhere including animal rescue shelters and it is very difficult to deal with the disease. In addition, all of our puppies have a documented history of vaccinations designed to combat the virus. Some animals do not have the immune system strength necessary to fully fight the virus and thus they may contract it. When the rare occasion occurs and this does happen our Furry Babies stores and facilities are scrubbed down following a strict regimen recommended by veterinarians."

"Furry Babies Inc. has reached out to those who have lost a puppy, including those mentioned in recent news reports, and we have determined that we will pay for all of the costs involved in these sad situations as well as providing a refund for the puppy. The owners and employees of all of our Furry Babies stores take great pride in our work and our efforts at providing a healthy pet to our customers. When these types of situations arise we too feel for the pet owner. Our objective is to do whatever we can to mitigate the loss in such a circumstance."

After receiving this statement 27 News asked to speak to a company representative in person regarding these recent parvo cases. We've also asked to personally see the breeding facilities where these young dogs are kept and raised. We haven't received a response at this time.

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