Sitting in the airport waiting to board the plane for my flight home, I noticed a very small silky terrier puppy being paraded around by an obviously proud owner. I know what you are thinking – I’m going to now write about how people need to adopt and not go to a back yard breeder/pet store/online store when adding a new furry friend into the family. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about here. While it is very important to adopt instead of support puppy mills or backyard breeders, most intelligent people already know this by now. No, I’m writing to address another matter that it seems less people know about: vaccines.
The dotting mother of the little silky was walking her pup up and down the terminal, letting everyone and anyone pet the dog. I politely as possible asked how old the puppy was and if she had all three of her booster shots yet. The woman told me that the dog was 15 weeks old and was “up to date on all shots”. I asked again if the dog had all three boosters, not just if she is on schedule for said boosters. She didn’t realize that being up to date and having all your boosters were not the same thing. She also did not realize that her puppy could still get parvo from walking around the ground. Yeah, you might want to pick your puppy up now.
Vaccines for dogs and cats are just as important as they are for human babies. The set of three booster shots of fvrcp (cats) and dhlpp (dogs), as well as the required by law rabies vaccine, are all incredibly important for the health and well-being of your pet. All three boosters are required for the animal to be fully protected against the diseases. Before all three boosters are given, you should not let your pet meet other animals, go to the dog park, or touch the ground outside unless the area has been sanitized. Working at a shelter that takes the animals other shelters are going to kill, we see way too many parvo and distemper dogs and far too many FeLV cats. FeLV cannot be cured, so the cats that have it have a shortened life. Distemper is tough to beat and I have witnesses an incredible amount of pain and suffering for both the dog and the foster parent as the battle is lost to this nasty disease. Parvo is easier to beat for a puppy, but there still is a mortality rate and the suffering from the disease is heartbreaking.
And here’s an interesting side note: not all shelters vaccinate their animals upon intake. This is incredibly stupid as it opens the door for a variety of disease outbreaks. The first of the booster shots will almost completely protect dogs from distemper. So if your local shelter announces that they have a distemper outbreak (I’m talking about you, Wisconsin Humane Society) – yeah, that was completely their fault because they do not have the common sense policy to vaccinate all their animals immediately as they enter the program. Please contact your shelter and demand they vaccinate on intake to avoid unnecessary disease outbreaks and deaths.