SIDNEY — The Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation’s (SCARF) third annual Walk to End Parvo will be Oct. 3 at 10 a.m., at VanDemark Farm, 2401 S. Vandemark Road.
Registration is now open and dog lovers who sign up by Sept. 18 will receive a T-shirt and dog scarf. The fee to participate is $20. Advance registrations can be made at www.helpshelbycountyanimals.com. Sign-up can also be done at 9 a.m., Oct. 3, at the walk site.
The walk welcomes people and dogs, but no retractable leashes will be permitted.
Parvo is one of the deadliest and most contagious diseases a dog can contract.
“It’s not an easy way to go,” said veterinarian Dr. Greg Schmiesing, owner of Flinn Veterinary Clinic in Sidney. “It’s about as bad of vomiting and bloody diarrhea as you can imagine.”
The Walk to End Parvo provides funds for vaccines that prevent the onset of the disease at the Shelby County Animal Shelter.
“It’s been a huge, huge difference having those funds available for vaccines,” said Deputy Sheriff Kelli Ward, who serves as deputy dog warden. “Parvo is (the diease) that has the ability to completely annihilate the population.” Staff at the shelter vaccinate dogs as soon as they are admitted to the facility, if the dog isn’t already at death’s door with the disease.
“If a dog is at the point of blood in the stool, we resort to euthanasia,” Ward said.
The vaccination prevents well dogs from contracting the disease. If dogs are in the early stages of parvo, shelter staff treat them with saline drips and medication. Those treatments also are purchased with funds supplied by SCARF.
“Before (the Walk to End Parvo), we were lucky to have funds for it,” Ward said.
Parvo affects puppies most often, but adult dogs can also become infected with the virus. It spreads rapidly.
“When I started (several years ago), it spread to four dogs in two days,” Ward said. To keep that from happening now, sick dogs are quarantined. Special chemicals are used to clean their cages. And dogs who are suspected of having parvo are tested.
“SCARF has bought us parvo tests. They’e not cheap tests, but SCARF makes sure we have them. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have those vaccines,” she added.
The work is paying off. Instances of parvo in dogs coming from the shelter have dramatically dropped, Schmiesing said.
“I can’t remember the last parvo case coming out of the shelter,” he said.
“The bottom line is, this annual walk truly helps prevent parvo, and we are seeing the effects of it,” said SCARF Vice President Joe Laber.
The organization has set a goal of $2,000, a 47 percent increase over the $1,364 raised in 2014. Then, 50 people and 25 dogs took part in the walk.
“Our primary goal … is to raise funds needed to purchase the parvo and distemper immunizations needed for more than 400 dogs that will come through the Shelby County Animal Shelter next year. Our secondary goal is to raise awareness of this deadly yet easily preventable disease,” a promotional flier says.
In addition to the walk, the Oct 3 event will include door prizes and raffles. Water, apples, bananas, granola bars and dog treats will be available in a hospitality tent.
New this year will be a photo booth, where, for a $5 donation, walkers and their dogs can be photographed together.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.