Infectious diseases are common in pets. Many infectious diseases, such as viral respiratory diseases, are a nuisance, similar to you or I having a cold. Others, such as Canine Parvovirus can be acutely life threatening. Parvo is the most common severe infectious disease in small animal practice. Parvo is a highly contagious virus that can affect all unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs and puppies. It is most common in puppies less than four months old. Parvo is easily transmittable. Symptoms of parvo include severe, sometimes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia.
So what is a Tigg Pen? At Follow Your Heart Animal Hospital we have a specially designed and custom built isolation/ICU unit for Parvo patients. We call it our Tigg Pen. Unlike many hospitals, where puppies suffering from parvo are hidden from the public, our isolation unit has a built in observation window. Rather than hide this disease, we aim to educate our clients on the importance of vaccinations, proper sanitary handling of puppies and pets, and the ugly truth of what can happen when these puppies get sick. The Tigg Pen is a place dedicated to the treatment and prevention of this devastating disease, but it is also a place of hope and honor. What is a Tigg? Tigg was a puppy with parvo who affected us all deeply. Here is his story....
“Tigg was a seven week old Pitbull puppy who presented to Dr. Carr for treatment of Parvo. He never really had a chance. He was about as sick as parvo puppies get. He had no immune system; his white blood count was less than 100. Even at its lowest level, the normal white blood count should be more than 6,000. He fought his disease bravely, but succumbed after three days.
That by itself is a sad story, but not that uncommon. Puppies die from parvo all the time -- but Tigg was special. A picture of Tigg was shared on social media on his first day in the hospital. By the time he died, Tigg's picture had been shared over 75,000 times and he had countless people wanting to adopt him. Many of those people made donations to the rescue. Within three days, Tigg had helped to raise thousands of dollars.
None of us knew Tigg. By the time we met him he was already dying. He displayed none of the typical puppy behaviors: he was not energetic or loving or happy. He was depressed and sick. Frankly, he was pathetic. But something about him touched us. In life, he was tiny and anonymous, but he became a giant in our hearts - a hero.
These rooms are dedicated to Tigg's memory and are an enduring thank you to him for reminding us that you don't have to be big to be important. The Tigg Pen is the only exam room in our hospital whose name will never change. This tiny anonymous puppy is the reason we started this hospital -- our Campus for Compassion -- a place for rescue and veterinary care and love. He taught us what was possible, and we listened.”