Puppies survive thanks to shelter’s special ICU


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Puppies fighting the dangerous parvovirus are getting a chance to recover, thanks to a special ward at the Austin Pets Alive animal shelter. Their Parvo Puppy ICU is the first of its kind in the nation.

The unit holds around 30 puppies battling parvo. The virus attacks the intestines, keeping the puppies from absorbing proteins and fluids. Each animal has an IV line in their leg, wrapped in bright medical tape, to give them life-saving fluids.

“All of these pups, if it weren’t for this ward, they would, unfortunately, be euthanized,” explained Austin Pets Alive program manager Steve Porter. A lot of shelters do euthanize puppies with parvo. The virus is treatable, but it can be deadly. And it can spread quickly if a shelter does not have the resources and protocols in place to protect the animals.

The puppies stay in quarantine while they recover. The staff follows strict procedures to avoid spreading the virus. They rely on donations and on volunteers to help keep the ward going and save the animals.

“This little guy’s been in here a couple of days,” Porter said, holding a small, gray Pug. The puppy had just started eating the day before. Porter called that a good sign. “I think he’s going to make it through.”

Last year, Austin Pets Alive treated nearly 700 puppies in the Parvo Puppy ICU. This year, they expect the number to reach close to 800. Porter says close to 90 percent of the puppies that get treated survive, and find homes.

“It’s just a ton of wonderful little animals like this that are highly treatable, can be saved, and are almost immediately adopted,” Porter said.

KXAN is partnering with Austin Pets Alive and other shelters across Central Texas to Clear the Shelters. The nationwide campaign Saturday, Aug. 18 aims to encourage adoptions of shelter animals. Participating shelters will drop their adoption fees for animals on Aug. 18 for the event.

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