December 9, 2009
To Whom It May Concern:
In November 2009, my wife and I were looking to adopt a Great Dane. It had been 8 ˝ months since our previous Dane/Lab mix had died suddenly due to a brain tumor. We had gotten him from Tracy Ward seven years earlier. Although when we got him she assured us he was a purebred puppy, as he grew we realized he wasn’t pure. He gave us seven good years and our experience with Tracy was a bit odd, but we were happy with Thudd.
We met with Tracy and Burt again on November 13, 2009 to adopt a new Dane. The adoption process wasn’t any different from the first time and it matches the other testimonies on the Gentle Giant News website
(http://www.gentlegiantnews.com/adopters.html). I will say that both times it was like buying illegal drugs or stolen property. It was very clandestine, having to follow seemingly strange rules of behavior and everything completely controlled by Tracy.
We picked out a 9 week old male puppy from the four she showed us. The story she told was one of a breeder who had become disabled and forced to move in with his mother. It seems he had a pregnant female who was about to give birth and his mother didn’t want to have the dog giving birth in her home, so he had to give her up. Tracy went on to say that the day the dog was ‘rescued’, she gave birth to a litter of seven (4 males and 3 females). In retrospect, it seems inconceivable that the breeder would give up a pregnant mother of seven just before she gave birth. After all, seven pure Danes would fetch a good price, and if the breeder was disabled or out of work, it would not make sense to throw away an investment that would be worth $7,000 or so in eight weeks.
Anyway, we signed the paperwork, paid $749 cash, got our bag of dog food and waited for her to rush the dog over to her vet for a final checkup. She came back and told us all she had to do was implant the chip and clip the dog’s nails. She came back out of the house, gave us ‘Barnabus’ and we were on our way. She did not provide us with any papers from the vet, and for vet records, she gave us handwritten notes of what shots had been given and when to get his next shots. The next day my wife noticed that the dog’s nails were not clipped, so we wondered what she did when she took him back in the house.
The entire time we were with her and the puppy, she never allowed him to walk (for protection against germs and disease, we were told). We got him home and carried him into the house and put him on his new bed. He looked a little thin and at nine weeks old he had not yet been neutered (against the laws regarding rescues, we later found out). We had been with him for about three hours by this time and I assumed he probably needed to pee. I tried to coax him to stand up and come to me, but he just lay there. Finally, I picked him up and stood him up. He stood for a moment, peed, then lay back down, and crawled to his bed. All of his movements that night consisted of crawling. We were concerned, but made excuses (he’s tired, scared, new surroundings, etc.).
The next day he seemed better, walking, playing a little, sleeping a lot, eating and having mild diarrhea. By the fourth day, he was not eating or drinking and was sleeping almost non-stop. Against Tracy’s advice, we took Barnabus to our vet, where we were informed that Barnabus had Parvo. Parvo is a virus transmitted thru dog feces. Unvaccinated puppies are highly susceptible to the virus. The symptoms of Parvo do not show up for at least seven days after infection in most cases. Barnabus was clearly infected at Tracy’s.
We spent the next ten days doing everything we could to try to save Barnabus. At a cost of $3,634, which included four Plasma infusions, numerous shots, liquid hydrations thru his skin, syringe feedings and many house calls by our vet, we did everything we could do. The disease shut down his intestines and he could not get any nourishment into his body. He basically starved to death before our eyes.
Throughout all of this, any conversations with Tracy consisted of her insisting that he was healthy when he left her place and he must have contracted the disease at our home. According to my research, Parvo can last in an area for up to nine months from introduction when not properly cleaned. Except for two instances, it had been 8 ˝ months since we had a dog living on our property. Again, Parvo is transmitted thru the feces of an infected dog. We have never had an infected dog at our home.
It is important to note that bleaching the area of possible infection can kill the virus. It is also important to know that our property consists of a cemented patio and an area of artificial turf, which we regularly bleached to remove odors and to keep clean. I say this to make a point - our property is very clean, odor-free and is the least likely place to find any type of virus. My wife and I are somewhat of germ-o-phobes and we clean regularly, so to blame our puppy’s illness on dog poop that had somehow been left in our yard is insulting and simply not true.
My reason for keeping in contact with Tracy during this ordeal was to warn her of the probable infection of her property and the danger to all dogs in her care. I was not looking for a refund (although that would have been the right thing for her to do), I was, and still am, extremely concerned for the well being of the dogs in her care. After watching a dog starve to death and have his intestines come out thru massive diarrhea, I expected her to be as concerned as I was and at least assure me that she would begin the long involved process of bleaching the areas where her dogs are kept. Instead all I got was denial and defensive responses about how it was my entire fault and she would not be giving me my money back.
In summary, $749 for the dog, $3,634 in vet bills, 14 days of ownership, 3 days in the vet hospital and witnessing a painful and torturous death.
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