Organization: Austin Pets Alive!
Investigator(s): Ellen Jefferson and Kevin Horecka
Grant Amount: $22,000
Project Type: Phase 1
Project Status: Research Complete
In part one of this project, Austin Pets Alive! evaluated the effectiveness of their in-shelter parvovirus treatment program and assessed the average treatment cost. It also researched factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of dog survival. The project found that nearly 90% of the dogs treated survived parvovirus with supportive care, and that this care can be given at fairly minimal cost (approximately $53 and 8 hours of care per dog). In the second part of this project, both adopters of parvo-treated puppies and adopters of puppies who had not been infected (e.g., the matched control group) were surveyed regarding any post-adoption medical and/or behavioral conditions. The study found no significant impact on behavioral or health outcomes in parvo-treated puppies as compared to healthy puppies.
This multi-phased project posed four primary objectives: to test effectiveness of the Austin Pet's Alive! in-shelter parvovirus treatment program; to assess average treatments costs; to research factors of survival; to assess any impact on behavioral and/or health outcomes of parvo-infected puppies as compared to matched controls.
The total cost of treatment was calculated to include the costs of medications, equipment, and volunteer time for each animal. A linear model was used to predict the cost of treating any particular dog using their weight as a predictor variable. Success of treatment was assessed by creation of a Survival Model, which took into account several metrics of severity of the individual's condition and the probability of recovery. The post-adoption survey portion of the study compared a population of 1-year-old dogs who had been infected with parvo between the ages of 1 to 3 months to an equivalent, matched, population from the same shelter who never contracted parvo. Surveys were submitted by 98 post-parvo adopters and 99 matched adopters on a variety of medical and behavioral measures common to 1-year old dogs.
Health and behavior survey
In conclusion, canine parvovirus is an imminently treatable illness. Results showed that 90% of treated animals survive with supportive care, at fairly minimal cost (approx. $53 and 8 hrs of care/animal). Overall, the research found no significant impact on behavioral or health outcomes in parvo puppies compared to matched controls, furthering the case that these animals can and should be treated and adopted out just as any other shelter animal.