DOG OWNERS have been warned to have their pets vaccinated or face prosecution, after two puppy deaths were reported in Norfolk.
Four young dogs have been affected by the potentially deadly parvovirus in the Mile Cross and Woodcock Road areas of Norwich in the last fortnight and two of these have now died.
A Norwich City Council dog warden alerted the RSPCA to the outbreak and both organisations are urging the public to be alert.
RSPCA inspector Rob Melloy said: ‘The consequences of not vaccinating your animal can be serious, sometimes resulting in serious illness or even death.
‘This outbreak of parvovirus could have been prevented by owners inoculating their dogs. We are also concerned that some dogs that fall ill may not receive the immediate treatment necessary to save their lives.
‘We urge pet owners to remember that vaccinations are a vital part of responsible pet ownership.’
The RSPCA reminded owners that anyone causing an animal to suffer by failing to seek veterinary treatment could face a maximum six- month prison sentence and/or a £5,000 fine.
The RSPCA recommends that owners have their pets vaccinated as soon as possible. The first inoculation can be given when the puppy is seven weeks old. The second dose is normally administered at 10 weeks.
The ‘vaccinate or else’ message has been greeted with dismay by dog owners who are opposed to vaccination. Catherine O’Driscoll of Canine Health Concern told OUR DOGS: ‘As suspected, this is probably the first volley following the new Animal Welfare Bill. My recollection is that the Bill says that we must ‘protect’ our pets from disease. It doesn’t say anything about vaccination.
‘If you look at, for example, the Concise Oxford Veterinary Dictionary, it states that with regard to parvovirus, ‘although mortality in young dogs (over 8 weeks of age) may be as high as 10%, in older dogs death is rare and enteritis is the main consequence’.
‘My research indicates that the best protection against viral disease is a biologically appropriate diet. Several studies have shown that living organisms need appropriate food to withstand viral disease. The normal healthy adult dog, given appropriate food, will not be at risk from parvovirus.
The blame must therefore lie at the feet of the pet food industry. Further, if the animal husbandry is not adequate, then even vaccinated dogs can, and do, succumb to parvovirus.’
The aim of Canine Health Concern is to educate pet owners with regard to optimum feeding, and disease prevention without the use of potentially harmful vaccines. The CHC say that if an animal is not fed properly, and is unhealthy in any way as a result (i.e. suffering from chronic malnutrition) then, according to vaccine licensing requirements, and vaccine manufacturers’ data sheets, the animal should not be vaccinated, since license requirements stipulate – ‘only healthy animals should be vaccinated’.
Ms O’Driscoll added: ‘The RSPCA needs to look at the bigger picture if it is to help the dogs. Vaccination is a very poor substitute for biologically appropriate food. It should be maybe using its millions to help educate the dog food industry.’