Parvovirus found in pound dog

Heather Gruppelaar and Dale Wedlock are closely monitoring Jessie, the year-old American Staffordshire terrier they bought from the Dunedin City Council pound before discovering she had parvovirus. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Heather Gruppelaar and Dale Wedlock are closely monitoring Jessie, the year-old American Staffordshire terrier they bought from the Dunedin City Council pound before discovering she had parvovirus. Photo by Linda Robertson.
A day after spending $100 to buy a dog impounded by the Dunedin City Council, St Clair couple Dale Wedlock and Heather Gruppelaar faced a veterinary bill of hundreds to treat their new pet's canine parvovirus.

On Sunday, they bought American Staffordshire terrier Jessie and signed a disclaimer absolving the council of any responsibility for the dog's condition.

The next day, Jessie was ill and tested positive for the highly contagious and potentially fatal parvovirus. She required expensive antibiotics and daily veterinary care, which the council would not pay for.

DCC development services manager Kevin Thompson offered to refund the couple's $100 but said it was a case of buyer beware when getting impounded dogs.

"If you buy a car 'as is, where is' and it breaks down two days later, you can't go back to the owner," Mr Thompson said.

The history and health of impounded dogs was unknown, which was explained when one was adopted, he said.

Testing or vaccinating impounded dogs eligible for adoption would be "costly" for ratepayers and impractical.

"When we adopted [out] that dog we had no idea it had parvovirus," Mr Thompson said.

Of all adoptions through the pound, 99% were without issue, he said.

Last year, 723 dogs were impounded. Most were reunited with owners, some were adopted or taken to a dog rescue service and 18% were euthanised.

Mr Thompson knew another impounded dog had parvovirus recently.

Mr Wedlock and Ms Gruppelaar understood the council was not legally obliged to assist but said they should have been told of the recent case. The council had a duty of care in respect of impounded dogs and the situation could have been better handled, they said.

Mr Thompson's offer to refund $100, which covered the cost of neutering, microchipping and registering Jessie, was declined.

"That wasn't the issue. They have a duty of care and should be more obliged to help and assist," Mr Wedlock said.

He would have gladly paid extra to have Jessie tested, if given the option.

Ms Gruppelaar was worried the experience would put others off adopting dogs from the pound.

"I think it's a fantastic service.

"The dogs get a second chance and I wouldn't want to jeopardise that," she said.

SPCA Otago animal supervisor Donna Hurring said society staff and volunteers fed impounded dogs and cleaned kennels, but the pound was run by the council independently of the charitable organisation.

All dogs at the SPCA were vaccinated against parvovirus, among other things, so there was no concern of it spreading through the facility, Miss Hurring said.

-rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

 

Good luck Jessie

Hope you pull through! And good on you Dale and Heather for taking her on in the first place and sticking with her.

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