Oprah's Puppy Dies from Parvo
Oprah Winfrey's two recently acquired puppies have been struck by Parvo, a deadly disease. (AP)
Oprah's Puppy Dies from Parvo: Recently adopted from a Chicago rescue, both of Oprah Winfrey's two new puppies have contracted Parvo, and one has died from the disease. "We were hoping and praying, but knew it was possible that he would not make it," one source told Zootoo Pet News.
NEW YORK -- One of Oprah Winfrey's recently adopted Cocker Spaniel puppies, Ivan, has died from Parvovirus, a contagious disease that affects only canines, Winfrey's spokeswoman confirmed to Zootoo Pet News.
Her other puppy, Sadie, is now fighting to overcome the same disease.
"I'm saddened by his [Ivan's] passing, though we only had him for a weekend," Winfrey said in a statement released directly to ZT Pet News. "I remain hopeful that Sadie will pull through."
As of this afternoon, Sadie has stabilized for the first time since she entered a Chicago animal hospital on Thursday.
"Her white blood cell count did not drop overnight and she is holding her own," Winfrey's spokeswoman said of Sadie.
But Winfrey is aware that the dog's 24-7 veterinary care might not be enough to see her through, according to Shelly Rubin, DVM, Winfrey's vet of the past 15 years.
"Everyone is working really hard to save that little dog," said Rubin, of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. "It's a deadly disease -- a bad, bad disease."
Winfrey adopted both 11-week-old Ivan and Sadie from Pets Are Worth Saving, a no-kill humane organization in Chicago, several weeks ago. The media mogul debuted Sadie, along with her three brothers, on her daytime TV show March 6; Winfrey then decided to adopt one of the other puppies, Ivan, on-air.
Ivan became ill with vomiting diarrhea mid-last week. One of Winfrey's veterinarians, Barbara Royal, contacted Jean Dodds, DVM, founder of Hemopet, the only animal blood bank in the country, on Wednesday evening.
Yet the blood transplant apparently came too late for Ivan, who was treated at a Chicago animal hospital on Thursday.
"They approached me when they knew these puppies were very sick and wanted to consider the possibility of providing antibodies," Dodds said. "The difficulty was Ivan was too sick. He had already become extremely sick. We were hoping and praying, but knew it was possible that he would not make it."
Ivan died over the weekend.
The focus has now turned to Ivan's sister, Sadie, who is undergoing treatment at an emergency veterinary clinic for the same disease.
"She is getting the best possible care and we are hoping for the best," Royal said.
In light of the tragic events, Winfrey is "doing really well," according to Rubin, who speaks to her "every day."
"It [her reaction] underscores what a wonderful person she is," he said. "Both of those dogs were brand new to her, but she is putting all the effort and time into trying to get Sadie saved.
"She is also very practical about the matter and sees that if Sadie is suffering, she will make the ultimate decision that maybe it is time to say goodbye."
Rubin added that there is a "glimmer of hope here," and that "it is too early to make a decision" on whether to euthanize the puppy.
PeoplePets.com originally reported Ivan's death yesterday, and also included confirmation of the dog's death from one of Winfrey's spokesmen today.
Royal, who specializes in holistic medicines and treatment for animals, said she first observed Ivan and Sadie at PAWS several weeks ago. She was also with Winfrey at the animal emergency hospital on Thursday, March 12.
Ivan initially appeared "fine" when Royal examined him, she said.
"Puppies look great until they don't look good," Royal explained. "Everyone was surprised. It was not at all what anyone expected."
Sixty to 80 percent of dogs who contract Parvo stand a chance at survival, Rubin said, but also noted that "a lot depends on the body's defense system."
He said Parvo is "a terrible disease," which normally has a three-to-seven day incubation period.
"The question is, how did these dogs come down with this?" Rubin said. "Did they come into the shelter with it, or did they get exposed once they were in a shelter?"
He described PAWS as "lush" and a "closed door boutique shelter," not the kind of place one would automatically link to a contagious canine disease.
But as Rubin said, "this can happen at any shelter, for any reason."
PAWS maintains that all of its animals "receive excellent care," according to a media release issued Tuesday evening.
"Our medical protocols are best-in-class in the industry and the steps we take prior to adoption include administering all required vaccinations, diagnostic testing, multiple veterinary checks, and a 14-day isolation period for puppies," the release said.
"Of the 501 puppies that PAWS Chicago took in during 2008, 92.2 percent either did not contract Parvovirus or were cured of the disease."
Royal backed the assertion that PAWS administered all of the required vaccines to Ivan and Sadie before they were released. She also said, however, that the shots could not have fully prevented the dogs from contracting Parvo.
"Everyone has been very good at making sure he [Ivan] had everything he needed to, but this can happen regardless of the vaccine," Royal said. "So many different things can affect it. It's the same with people -- there is no 100 percent guarantee against any disease."
Parvo is an airborne illness that attacks white blood cells and sometimes affects a canine's intestinal system. Dogs can contract the disease from other dogs' feces; humans can carry the disease on their hands, clothing or shoes, but they cannot contract it.
Last week, Ivan, Dodds said, began to experience bloody diarrhea, one of Parvo's main symptoms. That led to severe dehydration. Sadie began to exhibit the same symptoms several days later, Rubin said.
The disease is "much more serious in young puppies than it would be in older animals," Dodd said, adding that it could pop up anywhere. "If they were older and had their vaccinations, they would be OK, but this is a very vulnerable time for puppies."
Symptoms of Parvo can include lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and a high fever, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The vaccination is administered to puppies at 6-, 9-, 12-, 15- and 18-weeks of age. All dogs must subsequently be vaccinated every year.
In March 2008, Winfrey's 13-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Sophie, died of kidney failure; and in 2007, her Golden Retriever, Gracie, died after she choked on a plastic toy ball.
Rubin has treated Sophie and another of Winfrey's Cocker Spaniels, Solomon, for years. That dog died in October 2008, also from kidney failure.
The vet said he hopes for Sadie's full recovery, and that he will "have the opportunity to continue my care with them."
For now, though, he concluded, "Sadie is in good hands and that is where she needs to be."
PAWS also said in its release that its members' "thoughts and prayers are with Oprah Winfrey" and that they hope "Sadie makes a full recovery."
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