Puppy bought online dies from killer virus six days later

The cocker spaniel pup in its new home shortly before tragedy struck.
The cocker spaniel pup in its new home shortly before tragedy struck.

When a family in West Sussex made the decision to add a four legged friend to their family after their last dog died a year ago, they had no idea what emotional trauma they were all about to endure.

On the lookout for a medium sized active dog the family (who wish to remain anonymous) started looking at websites, eventually deciding on a black and white working cocker spaniel costing £350 from a breeder in Hampshire.

The cocker spaniel pup in its new home shortly before tragedy struck.

The cocker spaniel pup in its new home shortly before tragedy struck.

Excited about meeting their prospective brand new pet, the family called the number on the advert to arrange a meeting with the breeder, who instructed them to rendezvous at a local pub first, a possible tactic to stall them, before inviting them to follow the person to a farm hidden away behind locked gates.

A family member recalled: “We never asked to see the pup’s mother. We didn’t ask all the questions we’d carefully prepared beforehand as we got totally carried away in the moment. Looking back the place looked like a junkyard - there were so many danger signals.

“We collected the puppy and it easily settled, happily running around the house with its tail still wagging and enjoying playing with its exciting new toys. We booked it in for the first lot of injections at the local vets three days later, who after examination, found it was severely underweight, in extremely poor condition, was suffering from a severe worm infestation, and possibly something even more sinister.

“So we started worming treatment. The puppy then started to deteriorate quickly, repeatedly vomiting, passing bloody yellow mucus, and hunched-up painful-looking swollen tummy.”

The puppy was rushed over to Grove Lodge Vets 24 hour emergency hospital in Worthing and immediately put on a drip, given urgent medication, and blood samples were taken diagnosing amongst other things that the puppy was infected with killer dog virus ‘parvovirus’ – a highly contagious disease often lethal to young dogs like this puppy.

Grove Lodge Vets’ senior veterinary clinician Nicola Bromley said: “The puppy arrived at Grove Lodge Vets in a sorry state. Weighing less than one kilogramme she was severely dehydrated, anaemic, and with an extremely painful abdomen. After being diagnosed with parvovirus the puppy was carefully transferred into our purpose built isolation ward for intensive round-the-clock monitoring and care.

“Its treatment included the latest antibiotics, anti-vomiting drugs, gut protectants, intravenous fluids, painkillers, fresh frozen plasma, and even a special injection that can sometimes act as an antidote to the virus, but tragically the puppy’s condition continued to deteriorate, passing watery diarrhoea, and becoming even weaker.”

Fading fast and unresponsive to treatment the emergency team at Grove Lodge Vets decided the only option was to prevent any further suffering by the puppy, and with the family’s consent, euthanized it.

Vet Nicola explains “All the team here at Grove Lodge Vets are terribly saddened by the loss of this lovely pup. Sadly we’re now seeing this similar pattern frequently but it can be avoided by choosing your dog responsibly. Parvovirus is a killer disease that is prevented by vaccination and a clean breeding environment.

“Thousands of happy looking pups just like this one are bred in horrific conditions e.g. puppy farms, then transported cross country to these puppy sellers or ‘dealers’ and sold every day already carrying this deadly virus, which usually manifests itself a few days after settling into their new home when any natural immunity provided by their mother’s milk has worn off.”

Vet Nicola added: “If you’re looking to buy a puppy then please do your research. Always ask to see the mother and never buy online, from a pet shop, garden centre or anywhere that doesn’t feel right. With so many rescue centres overflowing with unwanted pets why not consider adopting a rescue dog instead – most have happy healthy puppies eagerly awaiting loving homes.”

A saddened family member said: “The whole family’s devastated. It’s taken us a year to get over the loss of our last dog that we had for 17 years. We purposely chose a private seller as we did this with our first dog 30 years ago who lived happily for 12 years and we had no idea this puppy farm culture now exists. There are some really hideous people out there where money is more important than animal welfare. We’ve completely lost faith in private sellers so in future want to help a dog from rescue home instead.”

As well as dealing with the loss of the puppy their whole house is now an environment heavily contaminated with the deadly virus so every sofa, carpet, etc needs disinfecting as it’s a serious health risk to any future dog coming into their house.