Here’s where and when to get your dog or cat vaccinated against preventable diseases

Categories: President's Blog

A411756_Rocco_Pit_Mix_AMary worked for the post office. While out on her mail route one day, she ran into a young boy and his dog. The boy was sad because his mother told him to get rid of the dog after it had chewed his sister’s shoes.

Not wanting to just throw the dog outside, the boy was looking for someone to give his canine friend a new home. Mary thought the pup was adorable. About five months old, he was black and white and reminded her of a young Petey from the Little Rascals. She had just moved into a new house and had wanted to get a dog, so she told the boy she would return after work to pick up the puppy. The boy was overjoyed.

He was outside his house waiting when Mary returned later that day. They talked a little about the dog’s likes and dislikes, learning that the boy had raised the puppy since he was four weeks old. Kissing his friend on the top of his head, the boy ran inside as to not have Mary see him cry. Placing the dog in her car, she was excited to start their journey together.

The first few weeks were fun. Now named Jack, Mary took her dog everywhere — to the park, to her friend’s house, even shopping. It never occurred to her to take him to the vet as the boy had assured her the dog was healthy and vaccinated and he looked happy. When Jack was lethargic one morning, Mary assumed he was worn out from the walk the day before and just let him sleep. When he wouldn’t eat, she hand fed him her leftovers from dinner. When he had runny stool, she ignored it, thinking it was from the rice and chicken he had eaten earlier. It took her a few days before she finally realized they needed help. Having no money to go to a private veterinarian, Mary brought Jack to the Humane Society.

Mary begged the lady behind the counter to take care of her new best pal. She filled out a form and qualified for the Helping Paws program, which provides support to pet owners in crisis by helping them keep their pet instead of turning them into the shelter. The dog was rushed to the clinic for care, but, unfortunately, Jack tested positive for a serious dog disease called parvo. Nothing could be done to save him. Mary left the shelter emotionally crushed and alone.

Canine parvovirus (parvo) is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread from dog to dog through contaminated feces and other fomites, such as food bowls, collars, leashes, hands, shoes and clothing of people handling infected dogs. Parvo can infect an animal’s intestinal tract and heart. Without treatment, 90 percent of dogs will have a fatal outcome. The treatment can be lengthy and expensive, and many cases have a low rate of survival even with intensive care. Dogs aged six weeks to six months are most susceptible to the disease. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, weight loss, lethargy, and dehydration.

The reality of this disease, however, is that it is 100 percent preventable with vaccination. Young dogs need to be vaccinated every three to four weeks from the age six to 12 weeks to be considered fully immunized against the disease. Adult dogs with no vaccination history should have a minimum of two vaccinations, a few weeks apart. Until your dog is fully vaccinated, they should stay away from places where potentially unvaccinated dogs gather including parks, dog parks and sidewalks. Consult with your veterinarian to develop a plan to keep your pet healthy. Set up vaccine schedule for puppy shots and adult boosters. If you suspect parvo, please seek medication attention at the first sign of any symptoms.

The Pasadena Humane Society is committed to helping you keep your dog healthy and to preventing diseases like Parvo. We offer low-cost vaccination clinics twice a week at our wellness clinic located at 361 S. Raymond Ave., in Pasadena. The organization also offers community-based vaccination and wellness clinics at various cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley. The next clinic is scheduled at Linda Vista Park in Pasadena on June 3 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Visit to learn more.

About Julie Bank

Julie Bank is President/CEO of the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA. Her animal welfare career spans almost thirty years working in leadership roles in local and national nonprofit and governmental animal control organizations in New York, Arizona, Oklahoma City and California. She is a nationally recognized speaker and writer on animal issues, and has traveled extensively educating and supporting organizations and communities with their animal welfare efforts. Each blog post originally appeared as part of Julie’s weekly column for the Pasadena Star News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune.