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Richard, a 6-week-old terrier blend puppy, is one of the first in the nation to receive a new state-of-the-art parvo treatment. Photo courtesy of the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
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New parvo treatment saves puppy’s life

RANCHO SANTA FE – Helen Woodward Animal Center has given a 6-week-old puppy diagnosed with a life-threatening illness a second chance at life thanks to a new state-of-the-art medical treatment.

Canine Parvovirus Monoclonal Antibody (CPMA) is considered to be the first-ever canine parvovirus treatment to exist. The antibody, which directly attacks the highly contagious and deadly disease in dogs, is brand new to the market and has a 9-month waiting list.

Richard, a tiny terrier blend puppy, was not only the first to receive the treatment at Helen Woodward Animal Center, but one of the first to receive the treatment at any animal shelter in the country.

Upon arriving at Helen Woodward Animal Center in early January, Richard was showing signs of the dreaded illness. He lacked any sort of energy or appetite, preferring to sleep the day away rather than play with his siblings.

Canine parvovirus, commonly known as parvo, is an extremely contagious and deadly illness among dogs with a 91% mortality rate in untreated cases. Only weeks old and weighing just 3.86 pounds, the typical parvo prognosis for such a tiny puppy is almost certain death.

Helen Woodward Animal Center had been waiting since April to be one of the first shelters in the state to receive the highly anticipated CPMA treatment. The new medication had luckily reached the center’s veterinary office just before Richard’s arrival.

Prior to the treatment’s debut last year, the only way to treat dogs affected by parvo was through expensive around-the-clock-care which involves administering antibiotics, IV fluids to combat dehydration and managing the canine patient’s electrolytes. While the traditional treatment combats the symptoms of the disease and may prevent the dog from dying, it doesn’t actually combat the virus itself.

CPMA on the other hand is a dose of synthetic parvo antibodies that prevent the disease from ever affecting the pup’s cells. In the case of Richard, the treatment worked overnight.

“It was an incredible transformation,” said Alexis Siler, the center’s adoption services medical director. “[Richard] was lethargic and barely moved when he first came to us. The day after we treated him with the antibodies, he acted like a happy and healthy pup.”

Not only does CPMA shorten the treatment process from up to a week to only 24 hours, but it’s significantly cheaper than traditional parvo treatment. The current treatment option for parvo can cost between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on how long the treatment takes – and despite the cost and weeks of effort, many puppies do not survive. CPMA reduces that cost to only $200 a vial and is showing extraordinary results in its early cases.

The medical team kept the young terrier pup on antibiotics for the rest of the weekend just to be safe. By the time Monday rolled around, Siler determined it would be safe to take Richard off the treatment.

The medical team continued to monitor the terrier blend for two more weeks to ensure he was completely cured. This week, Siler and the medical team confirmed Richard could be made available for adoption.

“Richard’s success is a huge win not only for us, but the entire animal welfare community,” Siler said.

To adopt Richard or for more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center, visit www.animalcenter.org, call 858-756-4117 or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

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