Vet nurse Suzanne Harkom vaccinates samoyed puppy Indiana. Photo: Angela Wylie
A PUPPY virus outbreak has claimed the lives of at least four pups at Melbourne pet stores.
At least one pup has been confirmed dead at pet shop franchisor Pets Paradise while another three puppies from pet chain Passion For Pets are dead from the highly contagious canine parvovirus that causes bloody dysentery.
Panic about the virus that attacks the intestinal lining, causing ulcers in puppies has spread over Facebook and animal-lover internet sites.
Maroondah City Council confirmed it had put a three-week ban on Pets Paradise in Eastland shopping centre in Ringwood selling puppies and put sick animals in quarantine.
There are also reports of sick puppies at Pets Paradise in Fountain Gate, Narre Warren, and Southland, Cheltenham.
Passion for Pets at Carrum Downs confirmed it had six puppies of different breeds infected this month, three of which died, and a further two that were sent back to the breeder.
Animal advocates have used the outbreak to call on the governmnet to ban the sale of animals through pet shops, which they say are the retail front to inhumane puppy factories.
Managing director of Passion for Pets Chris Blackwood said the virus came from a puppy wholesaler.
“We were very quick to get on top of it,” he said. “It’s very rare to see parvo out in society but we vaccinate everything that comes in.”
Several councils are investigating the cases, some of which link back to a Gippsland breeder that supplies the shops and which animal campaigners have labelled a “filthy puppy factory”.
Pets Paradise yesterday confirmed a puppy sold at it Southland store last month had died and said the customer had been given a refund.
Animal advocates Oscars Law produced medical records that showed nine-week-old cavoodle puppy Harvey died at a Malvern East emergency centre of the virus and that another puppy from the same pet shop pen was also diagnosed.
Group founder Debra Tranter showed The Age an email exchange with Pets Paradise business manager Kristy Humphreys in which the company acknowledged other puppies were treated by the South Eastern Animal Hospital.
“All the other puppies made a full recovery and are now home enjoying their new families,” Ms Humphreys wrote. She wrote that she would visit the Gippsland breeder as a matter of “high importance”.
City of Casey confirmed it was investigating the Fountain Gate case, “in full co-operation with Pets Paradise”.
Frankston City mayor Brian Cunial has asked officers to investigate the Southland report.
Pets Paradise would not comment on the Fountain Gate or Southland cases.
“It is of some concern that such serious allegations are being made without any particulars,” lawyer Omar El-Hissi said. “We reserve our right to respond to any specific allegations made once you are in a position to provide details.”
Senior veterinarian at the Melton Veterinary Clinic David Chang said young puppies and dogs that had not been vaccinated were susceptible. It can live for a year in the environment, including on concrete, making it highly contagious.
“In confinement, hygienic conditions aren’t ideal with all the defecation and urination and also the stress,” he said.
He said it cost at least $1500 for Parvovirus treatment. Vaccination costs about $90 a visit.
“These dogs have profuse bloody diarrhoea and what kills them is the shock and dehydration.”