FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — In Freeport, pet owners are frightened about a deadly disease spreading among dogs. If not caught in time, it can be fatal within a week’s time.

The Freeport Animal Hospital says it has noticed a rise in the number of cases of canine parvovirus, a highly contagious disease that is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces.

Two months after becoming a dog mom to a pitbull, Brandy Cross lost “Sugar” to parvo.

“Once we started seeing the signs, it was a matter of three days and she was gone,” she said. “I was sitting on the couch. My dad woke me up because he was up with her all night and he called me and goes, ‘she’s unresponsive.'”

Cross immediately called her veterinarian, but it was too late.

“They said she looked like she was all ready out the door, so I shined a light in her eyes, to see if her eyes would dilate or anything, and they wouldn’t. And less than five minutes later, she was gone. She took her last breath while I was holding her in her arms,” she recalled.

Dr. William Condie, a veterinarian at Freeport Animal Hospital, said, “Last month, I think we’ve seen six to eight cases, and it’s really hard on these dogs.”

The disease attacks the intestines and can be fatal to dogs who aren’t vaccinated against it.

“Parvo is an [virus that attack the digestive system] of dogs,” Condie said. “It wipes out the fast-growing cells of the intestines, so the dogs have severe vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy. [It’s a] very devastating disease on young dogs.”

For Cross, two months is all she spent with Sugar, but her memory is still fresh.

“There’s a little memorial in my back yard for her. There’s a rose bush back there and a solar powered butterfly light from my family, because they miss her,” she said. “She had everybody wrapped around her paw.”

Dr. Condie says the best way to keep dogs healthy is to stay up to date on vaccinations. The parvo vaccine is one of three shots recommended for puppies and new dogs, and needs to be updated yearly for adult dogs.


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