Mega Adoption Event seeks happy endings for pets and owners

DOVER — Sometimes, according to Brandywine Valley SPCA officials, things can just happen to animals that are out of animal shelters and rescue’s control.

Linda Torelli, marketing director for the Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSCPA), said that’s exactly what happened at a Mega Adoption Event at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington last December when six dogs that were adopted were later discovered to have contracted parvovirus — a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease — and died not long after.

The BVSPCA insists that those instances that took place last year were rare occurrences and hopes they won’t deter potential pet owners from checking out its’ cupboard of more than 1,300 dogs and cats that will be featured at the next Mega Adoption Event on June 29-30 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

“We’re always very particular about the health of our animals,” Ms. Torelli said. “We just did a revue to make sure everything is in place for our upcoming event at the Carpenter Center.

“Those animals (that died last year) were fully vetted and were appropriate candidates for adoption. It’s unfortunate because young puppies are always subject to parvo even when they’re fully vetted. Sometimes you just never know.”

While a record-breaking 1,181 pets — including 716 dogs and 465 cats — found their forever homes at that fifth Mega Adoption Event in Harrington, the discovery that six of the dogs that were adopted had parvovirus left a cloud over the event.

“We were crushed when that happened,” said Ms. Torelli. “Parvo can happen anywhere. It can happen with dogs even when people get them from a breeder.”

The BVSPCA said that it offered each adoptee impacted by parvo at last year’s event the opportunity for free care at its’ clinic or a VCA hospital and refunded all adoption fees.

Dr. Sheri Wood, medical director for the BVSPCA, said sometimes even regular age-appropriate vaccinations are not the cure-all when it comes to puppies and parvo.

“Vaccinations for puppies involve a process staged in time phases over a period of months, and a puppy isn’t fully vaccinated until four months of age,” Dr. Wood said.

“Properly vaccinated puppies can be susceptible to various diseases even when all the proper protocols are followed.”
When it comes to parvo, Dr. Wood said testing has been known to be unpredictable.

“Usually a dog doesn’t test positive until it’s symptomatic,” she said. “We see very few parvo cases, and the ones we do have a high treatment response and survival rate. All of the puppies at the event were examined several times by veterinary staff, and none were symptomatic prior to or during the event.”

Ms. Torelli said it was a shame that the unfortunate tragedies overshadowed so many happy endings that took place last December in Harrington.

She added that she still sympathizes with those who lost their dogs to parvo at the event.

“These are unfortunate cases that are a small minority representing 0.5 percent of the population in an event that has saved thousands of lives in its three-year history,” she said.

The upcoming Mega Adoption Event at the Bob Carpenter Center, the first at the venue, will be the BVSPCA’s sixth overall and it has found homes for more than 4,200 animals in its first five incarnations.

Animals from 14 shelters and rescues, including all the BVSPCA’s animals, will be available for adoption for a $35 fee and all animals will be spayed/neutered, microchipped and up to date on vaccinations.

“They are pretty big deals,” Ms. Torelli said. “It’s pretty amazing. For us, it’s the highlight of our year. We always enjoy families coming in and especially seeing kids coming in to pick out their first cat or dog. Their expressions are priceless.”

Big successes for BVSPCA
Things such as the Mega Adoption Events help the BVSPCA save the lives of thousands of homeless animals.

In fact, it placed 13,406 animals in forever homes last year, when the organization took in 14,642 animals and maintained a 95 percent live release rate.

Many of the animals were lost or abandoned pets in the local community with nowhere to go. A total of 1,676 families were reunited with their lost pets.

Those adoption numbers far exceeded expectations, according to Adam Lamb, chief executive officer for the BVSPCA.

“It was really inspiring to see so many families come out to give these great pets a second chance,” Mr. Lamb said. “We’re already getting updates from families about how much they love their new cat or dog.

“That’s the hope and dream that motivates our staff and volunteers every day, and especially on the most difficult days.”

The BVSPCA also stayed busy last year as its’ clinic services helped family pets with 11,324 wellness appointments, which was 39 percent more than 2017.

It also introduced its’ Wellness Wagon preventive care services to reach even more pet families in the middle of last year and performed a record number of spay/neuter surgeries to further reduce pet homelessness.

The BVSCPA is still performing work on its’ future facility on Horsepond Road in Dover, which will establish a brick-and-mortar location in each of Delaware’s three counties.

“The work on our Dover campus is coming along really great,” Ms. Torelli said.

“Not counting in weather or other potential issues, we project at this point that we’re going to be open in August, but we’re still looking to raise some much-needed funds to finish it.”

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