By Nicole Pajer

One of the scariest things that can happen to a puppy is the parvovirus. Once infected, a puppy faces a high mortality rate and the odds of survival decrease the longer you wait to bring the dog in. The battle against parvo can be grueling and costly, but if the signs are recognized and treated early, the puppy has a chance to survive. Such was the case with Macey Malone.

Macey Malone’s story

Michelle Torres and her boyfriend Matthew Love had been toying with the idea of getting their first puppy together for some time before stumbling upon a litter of Miniature Australian Shepherds. A trip to the breeder “just to look at the puppies” resulted in the couple putting a deposit down for a puppy, which they decided to name Macey Malone—Malone after the bar that they met at, Molly Malone’s.

Three days after Macey was home, she began having diarrhea and was having difficulty keeping her food down. “We gave it 24 hours to see if maybe she had just eaten something that upset her tummy. Unfortunately Macey remained lethargic, wouldn’t eat, and drank very little water. My gut instinct was to take her in to see the vet,” says Torres.

The vet confirmed their worst suspicions, Macey did indeed have parvo. Torres and Love now faced the option of hospitalizing Macey or putting her down. The animal clinic explained that the treatment would be costly — roughly $1,000 per day, but that catching it early gave her an 80 percent chance of survival and that most puppies that are able to beat it pull through in three to five days. “Matt and I are huge animal lovers and we were so in love with Macey nothing else made sense but to start treatment right away,” explains Torres.

Macey’s three to five days quickly turned into a week. She had not made much progress, even after two plasma transfusions. On the eighth day, the veterinarian called with the news that the final chance to turn Macey around was a blood transfusion, which was $1,000 on its own. Torres says that the clinic became so attached to Macey that the vet brought in her own personal dog to be the donor. “Macey received the transfusion, along with an antibiotic that supposedly never gets broken out of the cupboard and low and behold it all worked. Another couple days in the hospital and I was on my way to pick her up.”

In total, Macey was in the hospital for 11 days. She returned home weighing just three pounds—frail, exhausted, and with three legs shaved down to the bone from where the IVs were inserted, but she pulled through. The horrific experience ended up costing Love and Torres $11,500 total! Not only did Macey beat parvo, but she was one of only three surviving puppies from the two infected litters at her breeder; sadly 12 infected puppies did not make it.

“Macey is now just over four months old, she is a great little sister to Heidi, our 10-year-old dachshund, and one of the most loving dogs I’ve ever owned. She just began taking “basic manners” classes and our hope is for her to become a therapy dog and help others in need. This is one way of us giving back to the community.” explains Torres. To share their experience and educate others, Torres and Love have been following rescue forums and networking with people who are going thru similar situations. “We have made donations to others in need since our experience and will continue to help as much as we can,” Torres says.

Love explains that Macey’s battle with parvo was a stressful experience but well worth it. “It was a costly battle but we’re so thankful that she was able to pull through and that we were able to bring a puppy home at the end of it. We hope that Macey’s story will help people to realize the seriousness of parvo and to take action when their puppy begins to show possible symptoms of having it.”

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