A tiny shih tzu puppy is lucky to be alive after catching a deadly virus his owner puts down to dog waste in a Sunderland back lane.
At just eight weeks old Gary the dog fought for life for two days after contracting Canine Parvovirus, which is spread by dog faeces or contact between dogs.
The adorable pup had been about to get his first round of vaccinations and owner Emma Haughan, 42, had kept a close eye on him, ensuring he did not leave her back yard in Roker.
He had not been allowed contact with any other dogs when he fell ill a few weeks ago, and Emma believes the large amount of dog mess left in the lane behind her home in Horatio Street is to blame.
Parvovirus is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faeces. Without treatment, less than 10% of dogs survive.
“Over the last few years we’ve had a problem with dog mess, it’s so bad it’s stacked up against my back gates,” said Emma, who has lived at the address for eight years.
He was so ill, I thought he had stopped breathing and was about to do CPR on him, when they vet came out and rushed him throughEmma Haughan
“I absolutely believe it’s what caused my now 16-week-old puppy to contract Parvo.
“He started with an upset stomach on the Friday.
“By the Saturday, he had no control of his bowels at all and was vomiting.
“We took him straight to the emergency vet.
“He was so ill, I thought he had stopped breathing and was about to do CPR on him, when the vet came out and rushed him through.
“They kept him in over night on an IV drip. I rang on the Sunday morning and they said he was well enough to be picked up.
“He was a very, very lucky puppy. This can kill in 72 hours.
“He was just about to have his eight-week vaccinations and was only allowed in the yard.”
Gary has made a full recovery, but the ordeal cost Emma, who is studying for a criminology and psychology degree, £156.
Dog mess is not the only problem in the lane, with wheelie bins overflowing with rubbish, a supermarket trolley, clothing, eggshells and a vodka bottle, said Emma.
“I’ve spoken to the council,” Emma added. “They said they couldn’t get anyone out to clean it up, aside from the regular patrols every two weeks.
“We complain to the council every other week.”
Portfolio Holder for City Services, Coun Michael Mordey, has previously blamed Government cuts, which has affected the council’s budget for services.
He also warned that further reductions like those already seen in grass cutting and litter picking, are likely to be on the cards.
“This is because there simply isn’t the money available to us to carry on as we did,” Coun Mordey added.
Anyone who has concerns about littering can report it by telephoning 520 5550 or visiting the website sunderland.gov.uk