Fourteen puppies that were part of 49 dogs surrendered by a Golden Gate Estates breeder last month have died.
The Labrador and golden retriever puppies were only about three days old when they were surrendered by Arthur Perkins after he received a foreclosure notice on his property.
“This is tragic situation,” Michael Simonik of the Naples Humane Society said. “They came from a horrible place and this is what happens when you have a place like that.”
The puppies died of parvovirus, a contagious virus. Dogs are required to be vaccinated against the virus, which needs at least seven days to develop, Simonik said. He said the mothers of the litters must have been infected and passed it onto the puppies.
Simonik said Perkins’ property was not conducive for caring for four or five litters at a time. Typically a litter has eight puppies.
“It’s overwhelming to handle,” he said. “Parvo spreads very easily, it’s very contagious. It must have been on the ground, and they were all catching it.”
Collier County Domestic Animal Services found parvo previously at Perkins’ property. DAS had been responding to complaints about Perkins dating back to 2005. A puppy died from various infections, according to a 2005 DAS report that didn’t specifically name parvo as the cause of death. The agency also got another complaint in 2009 about a litter of puppies dying from the virus.
“To everyone involved, or had any involvement in animal rescue in Naples, they’re just sick over it,” Chuck Danielian, a local animal advocate, said.
Danielian, who is also involved in greyhound rescue, said this whole situation could have been avoided.
“It could have been stopped,” Danielian said. “Why harsher measures were not brought against this guy, is beyond me.”
Perkins is not facing any criminal charges.
When the dogs were surrendered the nursing mothers and puppies under about 10 weeks old were brought to the Naples Humane Society. The other dogs were taken to DAS. Two weeks later, 11 were ready to be adopted and DAS held a lottery. Ten dogs found new homes. Now, one dog, a 5-year-old golden named Willie, has been missing for more than a week. He was last seen in Golden Gate Estates.
When the puppies first arrived on July 16, one had died that night. By Saturday, the mother of one of the litters was running a fever of 107 degrees and was pulled away from the puppies. The litter of eight were being bottle fed by volunteers, but by Monday they had bloody diarrhea and were taken to an emergency veterinary clinic.
An anonymous donor foot the $8,000 bill for the puppies - who were later joined by another litter of eight - accrued over a two week period.
Even with the proper medication and intravenous fluids, Simonik said, all but two perished from parvovirus.
The two that survived are jovial and playful, Simonik said, and are in foster homes now preparing to be ready for adoption.
On Sunday, one of the five puppies that had been weaned, found a new home.
Simonik said they offer a 48-hour window for adoptions on their website. On Friday, they posted the puppy was ready, by Sunday they had four families lining up at 8 a.m.. Simonik said the first family seemed like the perfect fit.
“It wasn’t even a golden, it was a black lab,” Simonik said. “When the goldens are ready, there will be a lot of interest.”
The other puppies are in foster homes, along with the nursing mothers.