A local veterinarian and the Erie County dog warden are hoping a low-cost vaccination clinic offered this month will help the county avoid another outbreak of Parvo, a virus that's potentially lethal to dogs.
"It's a very serious disease," said Companion Care Animal Clinic veterinarian Jerry Farkas. "It's very expensive and hard to treat -- but it's easy to prevent."
While there are no official numbers tracking Parvo infections locally, Farkas said Erie County saw a sizable jump last year in the number of dogs infected by the virus.
"My office was inundated in June and July last year," Farkas said. "So we thought this year we'd try to catch it early."
Farkas is teaming up with Erie County dog warden Barb Knapp to offer a low-cost, drive-through vaccination clinic from 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 29 and May 20 at the county's dog shelter, 2900 Columbus Ave.
If a dog has never had the vaccination, it should get one shot at each of the clinics, Knapp said.
"It effects the intestinal tract," Farkas said. "In young animals, it's very deadly."
The virus spreads through dog-to-dog contact and through feces. It attacks the stomach and the small and large intestines, causing severe internal bleeding and bloody diarrhea.
Because most folks are fighting financial problems in a tough economy, Farkas said he's concerned that some dog owners will put vaccination plans on hold. The virus usually begins popping up around May and June, but Farkas has already seen his first case this year.
"I'm expecting a real problem this year," Farkas said. "But trust us: If you can't afford the shots, you can't afford to treat it. The best thing to do is avoid it."
It costs $10 for one shot at the drive-through clinic. Comparatively, it costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to treat a dog after it contracts Parvo virus, Farkas said.
The virus is especially fatal in puppies, 80 percent of whom die within just a few days if they aren't treated, Farkas said.
WHAT: Vaccination clinic for the Parvo virus
WHEN: 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 29 and May 20
WHERE: Erie County dog shelter, 2900 Columbus Ave.
COST: $10 per shot