Thursday, April 24, 2014
SCARBOROUGH — The state has quarantined a pet store in Scarborough for the second time this year because a puppy that the store sold last week tested positive for a potentially fatal disease.
Sophie, a 9-week-old ori-pei, is being treated for parvovirus, a highly contagious disease that is often fatal for dogs. Little Paws, the Scarborough store that sold her to Tina Bark of Westbrook, has been placed under quarantine while state officials investigate.
Courtesy of Tina Bark
The two-week quarantine was imposed Monday after the animal welfare division of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry was notified that the sick puppy tested positive for parvovirus, said John Bott, spokesman for the department.
During the two weeks, the store, at 456 Payne Road, can be open but cannot sell any puppies. The state will assess the store after the two weeks and decide whether to lift or continue the quarantine.
Parvovirus is highly contagious and potentially fatal for dogs.
The store, Little Paws, was under quarantine for nearly a month in February after a Siberian husky puppy that it sold died of parvovirus. Little Paws was allowed to resume selling puppies when the quarantine was lifted.
It wasn't clear Monday how unusual it is for one pet store to have two parvovirus cases in six months. Bott said he could not immediately provide the number of cases and quarantines issued in Maine.
The dog that tested positive for the disease last week is a 9-week-old ori-pei, a mix of Shar-Pei and pug, named Sophie.
Tina Bark of Westbrook said she bought Sophie on July 22. The puppy appeared healthy at the time, but within four days it was so sick that it needed emergency veterinary care.
Sophie is still hospitalized. Bark and her husband, Timothy, had to pay a $3,000 deposit for her care and were told to expect their bill to climb as high as $8,000.
"They told me they can't give me any guarantees" about her prognosis, Bark said. "Right now she's not eating or drinking on her own."
No one answered the phone at Little Paws on Monday afternoon. The owner, Barbara Cross, did not return a phone call seeking comment. A sign on the door of the pet store said it was closed Monday "due to unfortunate circumstances."
Bott said the state is investigating the situation at Little Paws, including where the infected dog came from, the source of the parvovirus and the condition of other animals in the store.
"We need to make sure the rest of the animals are healthy and in good condition," he said.
Bark said she was hesitant about buying a dog from a pet store, but was assured by Little Paws' staff that all of its puppies come from reputable breeders in this area.
"I asked questions and I got completely lied to," Bark said.
After Sophie got sick, Bark said, she went back to the store to find out where the puppy had come from. An employee told her the puppy was purchased from a breeder in Missouri. The store offered to take Sophie back and refund Bark's money, but Bark said she couldn't bring herself to do that.
"All we wanted was to bring home this little bundle of fur to love. Now I'm scared to death she's not going to survive," she said. "It only takes a couple minutes for her to wrap herself around your heart."
Bark said she will join Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills for a protest outside the store Saturday.
Carol Reynolds of Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills said the organization protests outside pet stores that sell dogs from U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed large-scale breeding operations, which some people refer to as puppy mills. The group encourages people to adopt animals from shelters and rescue groups.
"(This is) just another example of how people are being sold sick animals for a huge profit," she said. "And this is just another example of the heartbreak that can come from buying a puppy at a pet store."
Cross, the owner of Little Paws, said in February that she avoids puppy mills by interviewing breeders and getting photos of their facilities.
"I don't believe any of my puppies come from puppy mills," she said. "I would never want to support them. I try my best to make sure I'm not."
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: