Pet shop puppy had potential fatal virus
A man who bought a chihuahua puppy for his daughter from a pet shop was shocked when he found out that the little creature had a potentially fatal virus that could be passed on to his two other dogs.
The puppy, which he called Crazy, had canine parvovirus that leads to death in 50 per cent of cases and is very contagious among dogs, although it is harmless to humans.
Bernard Zarb reported the case to the Animal Welfare Department and, this week, welfare officers inspected the Swieqi pet shop from where he bought the dog.
Officers are working on tracking down the breeder from whom the nine-week-old puppy had origin-ally been bought.
Mr Zarb said he had bought the chihuahua for his five-year-old daughter last week and paid €170 for it.
A few days after he took the dog home it stopped eating and he noticed worms in its faeces. The dog’s health started deter-iorating and he took it to the St Francis animal hospital, where it was diagnosed as suffering from parvovirus.
Mr Zarb panicked because he was worried about the health of his daughter and his two other dogs. He was informed that the virus did not affect people but it was very contagious among dogs and potentially deadly.
He immediately cleaned his house thoroughly and later informed the animal welfare authorities about the incident. So far, his two other dogs do not show any signs of having contracted the virus.
In the meantime, poor Crazy remains in hospital and its future is uncertain. Mr Zarb, who thanked the animal hospital staff for their work, is undecided whether he will keep it as a pet because of his two other dogs. But if he decides to let go of it, he plans to find a good home for Crazy.
Animal Welfare Department director Joseph John Vella said the virus was almost fatal with a 50 per cent survival rate.
Pet shops were not legally obliged to give vaccinations but it was good practice and they usually did. Yet, if a pet shop did not treat a sick animal that amounted to neglect, which was a criminal offence.
Mr Vella said it was important for pet shop regulations, which are in the pipeline, to come into force because they would regulate the sector by, for example, obliging pet shop owners to keep vaccination records.
He said this was the second case in which the department was asked to intervene to inspect a pet shop because an animal was suffering from a potentially fatal virus.