Puppy love sparks crisis for rescuers

PUBLISHED: 10:57 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:56 25 August 2010

CARING: Chloe Williams with puppies Bobby

CARING: Chloe Williams with puppies Bobby

AN ANIMAL charity which took in six puppies with a deadly virus is under threat after being hit by a huge vet s bill.

AN ANIMAL charity which took in six puppies with a deadly virus is under threat after being hit by a huge vet's bill.

Three of the six-week-old lurcher pups found by a passer-by in a cardboard box on a golf course have since died of killer bug Parvo and the three battling survivors are being cared for by Willow Wildlife Rescue.

Eddie and Pat Williams run the centre, which usually cares for injured wildlife in north Kent and south-east London,

In 2004, generous Kentish Times readers raised more than £7,000 to help keep Willow Wildlife's animal ambulance going.

The Chislehurst charity agreed to take the pups from the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), in Thamesmead, on June 28 because it could not find them a home.

Four days later one of the pups started vomiting and had to be put on an intravenous drip. Tests revealed all six had Parvo and campylobacter disease, which targets the digestive system, causing blood in the faeces.

They were put in intensive care at Laurel's Vets, in Bromley, at a cost of more than £500 for Parvo drug treatment alone. The disease can cause heart failure in puppies not vaccinated. Faced with a bill well in excess of £3,000, Mrs Williams said future care will be badly affected and the centre could be forced to close until more resources are available.

The PDSA has refused to accept any financial responsibility.

Mrs Williams, 64, said: "They said because we are not on benefits they could not help us with the bill.

"They refused point-blank to help. The vet's bill is a huge problem for us. Our annual budget is only £11,000.

"I wasn't expecting the PDSA to pay the whole bill but a contribution would be a start."

Mrs Williams said the charity once again needs help to continue. She added: "The pups were okay at first but their health deteriorated rapidly and they were in a very bad way in no time at all.

"Because they had contagious diseases they needed intensive barrier care, which is expensive."

The surviving pups are now being cared for in a quarantine area by her granddaughter, 19-year-old Chloe Williams, to minimise the risk to other animals, including foxes, which are being cared for by the couple.

Miss Williams said the puppies were putting up a brave fight, adding: "It will be horrible if we have to close for a month to save funds on things like feed and petrol for the ambulance.

"It's not fair that my grandparents have been landed with this bill just because they are not on benefit.

"If we can't get money through fundraising we will have to close."

A PDSA spokeswoman said: "Veterinary staff at Thamesmead PDSA PetAid hospital assessed the puppies, which were bright and lively, before they were transferred to Willow Wildlife.

"At this time there were no clinical signs of Parvo virus, but they were treated for flea and worm infestations. The charity has strict eligibility criteria to ensure its limited resources target pet owners most in need. To be eligible for treatment, pet owners must be in receipt of council tax or housing benefit."

l To donate, visit or send cheques payable to Willow Wildlife Rescue at Willow Wildlife Rescue, 75 Walden Avenue, Chislehurst BR7 6EL. Donations can also be dropped into the Kentish Times office at Roxby House, 20-22 Station Road, Sidcup, Kent

DA15 7EJ.

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