A man who adopted a pound puppy with parvovirus wants the Whanganui District Council to reimburse his vet costs and check dogs for the highly contagious disease.
However, the council says it is not liable for costs if someone adopts a dog with a contagious disease and, at $95 per test, it is too expensive to check dogs for parvo before they are accepted into the pound or rehomed.
Whanganui's Craig Lilford bought a 10-week-old miniature fox terrier from the pound on Friday, February 9, as a Valentine's Day present for his wife, Joanna.
"We got the dog in good faith from the council and took it to the vet the same day for a check-up and shots," Mr Lilford said.
"The next day the pup started showing symptoms of parvo. We kept him at home for the weekend because of the high cost of taking him to the vet after hours. The vet gave us advice on how to look after him at home and then we took him in on the Monday. He was tested for parvo which came back as positive. He was at the vet's for a week and we ended up with a $500 vet bill."
To add to the Lilfords' worries, they had made a non-refundable $300 deposit on a 6-week-old rottweiler puppy valued at $1000. It was one of a litter of eight that had not been weaned and had only had their first vaccinations.
The Lilfords visited the rottweiler litter the day they adopted the foxie pup.
"The foxie had been licking us and the rottie pups licked us and we handled some of them and their mother," Mr Lilford said.
"I had to contact the breeder on the Monday to say our pup had parvo and we may have infected the rottie pups. We also couldn't take the rottie pup we had chosen because our place is now infected with parvo."
The foxie pup survived (as did the rottweiler pups) and has had its final vaccinations but Mr Lilford is unhappy with the response he received from the council.
"We are out of pocket and I'm concerned that the council isn't held responsible," Mr Lilford said.
"I asked them to reimburse our vet costs but they have refused, saying we signed a document accepting the risk. They need to say on that form that they are not responsible for costs incurred. I bought a $60 dog and ended up with a $1000 bill."
The council's compliance team leader Warrick Zander said the pound's paperwork outlines the risks of rehoming dogs from the pound.
"Mr Lilford signed a sale of dog agreement with the pound that specifically states we cannot guarantee the dog has not contracted a contagious disease before or during its time in the pound," Mr Zander said.
"Mr Lilford was offered an opportunity to return the dog which he declined."
Mr Zander said the pound only tested for parvo in cases where symptoms were indicative of the disease.
"The reason for not testing universally comes down purely to the cost of the test, which is quite expensive," Mr Zander said.
"The puppy was kept in an isolated puppy kennel, away from exposure to other dogs, and showed no parvo symptoms while at the pound. Given the incubation period for parvo (veterinary advice is 6 – 10 days) it seems most likely the disease was contracted prior to the puppy's four-day stay at the pound.
"Staff have cleaned the puppy kennel according to veterinary advice to be sure there is no contamination or risk to other dogs. We do work closely with vets and the pound facility is kept as clean and sanitary as possible."
The pound has been under fire with breaches of the Animal Welfare Act in the past year and Mayor Hamish McDouall said in February that parvovirus in the pound would be "an absolute disaster for the community". A new pound is to be built at Airport Rd at a cost of $1 million.