Warning issued for Philly parvo outbreak, PAWS offers free spay/neuter

Two important bulletins for Philadelphia pet owners today.

First. the Pennsylvania SPCA is urging dogs owners to have their pets vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus (CPV) after an early uptick in the cases of the often-fatal disease.

"Parvo is one of the most deadly viral illnesses in our canine population," said Dr. Lisa Germanis, a staff veterinarian at the PSPCA, said in a statement. "In the past two weeks, we've seen more than 20 cases of parvo in our veterinary clinic. Typically we don't begin to see this many cases until later in the spring and summer."

Dogs of all ages can contract parvo, but puppies are more severely affected, Germanis said. The virus attacks the dog's intestinal tract, white blood cells and heart.

CPV can live in the environment for over a year and is highly contagious.

Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and severe, often bloody foul-smelling diarrhea.

You should take your dog to a vet as soon as possible if you note these symptoms, Germanis said.

The Pennsylvania SPCA offers a low-cost walk-in vaccination clinics from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday and the first and third Saturdays of every month at its facility at 350 E. Erie Avenue in Philadelphia. No appointments are necessary.

Qualified pet owners in three Philadelphia zip codes can get an even better deal on spay/neuter services from PAWS: FREE.

Philadelpia Animal Welfare Society is offering free spay/neuter for residents of 19143, 19145, and 19146 who are on any form of public assistance (Access, Medicaid, etc.).

The funding is provided by PetSmart Charities and the ASPCA. In addition to the spay/neuter surgery, pets also receive rabies and distemper vaccinations if needed, and pre- and post-operative exams.

The society's goal is to spay/neuter 1,200 animals by the end of November as part of this program, in hopes of reducing the number of animals that end up in Philadelphia shelters or produce unwanted litters.

All services are provided at PAWS low-cost Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic, located at 2900 Grays Ferry Avenue. Call 215-298-9680, email clinic@phillypaws.org, or stop in to make an appointment. The clinic is open seven days a week.

Since opening in March 2010, the PAWS clinic has served more than 24,000 rescued and owned pets.