PHOENIX - A 3-month-old puppy died, just days after a Valley family adopted him from a county animal shelter.
"He was really sick and he just couldn't hold it," 5-year-old Katie Wicker said describing her new pet's final moments. "He was trying to fight it, but he couldn't take it anymore."
The little terrier-mix puppy named Winnie was supposed to be a Valentine's Day gift for Katie and her mother, Heather. The day the Wickers brought Winnie home from the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter, he began getting sick and throwing up. They took Winnie home February 13th.
Winnie's new family brought him to a veterinary clinic where they discovered he had Parvovirus.
Parvo is an animal virus that is about as deadly to dogs as the Ebola virus is to humans. Most puppies that get it will die. Winnie died February 17th.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control is upset about the sad turn of events. They believe Winnie contracted the virus on the streets before he was brought in to their Phoenix shelter on 27th Avenue.
The shelter said Winnie was not showing any symptoms of Parvo, and although they vaccinated him immediately, it was probably too late to help him.
The Wickers said Katie watched as Winnie died. She cried because there was nothing they could do to save him.
"It hurts. It hurts a lot," Katie's mom Heather said. "The fact is that we loved this dog, and [the shelter] not testing for Parvo when this dog was released is a really sad thing."
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control said they can vaccinate every animal they get, but it is too difficult to test the thousands of animals that come in for specific diseases.
"We do have daily vet checks routinely for our pets here at the county shelter. When we see [Parvo] symptoms, we take that into consideration and note that with another vet check up," said spokesman Audie Greybear.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control said they have already taken steps to sterilize their kennels since the incident with Winnie.
They said they will refund what the Wicker family paid to adopt Winnie, but the family will have to file a claim with the county if they want to get back the hundreds of dollars of veterinarian bills they racked up trying to save their new dog.
The Wickers setup a Facebook page to tell others about their story, and warn them about the dangers of Parvo. The page is called Remember Winnie.