parvo ward
Gizmo is one of the puppies who received a second chance at life thanks to Shannon's parvo ward.

How one woman’s philanthropic efforts is saving puppies with parvovirus.

Parvovirus leads to the euthanasia of many puppies in shelters. Without a quarantined space to house affected dogs, this contagious disease can easily be spread to other four-legged occupants. Rather than putting the rest of the shelter population at risk, parvo patients are killed. But Shannon Wells, the Director of Operations at Kansas City (KC) Pet Project in Missouri, wasn’t willing to accept this drastic and unnecessary solution. So she took matters into her own hands, creating a Parvo Ward in the shelter to safely treat sick puppies.

In December 2012, a pair of puppies came to the shelter. Both of them tested positive for parvo. Shannon couldn’t bear the thought of euthanizing them, so she worked with the on-site veterinarian to develop a treatment plan. They shut down their employee break room, turning it into a makeshift parvo ward. “Both puppies survived treatment, thankfully, and once I knew we could do if for these two puppies, I knew we had to do it for all of them,” says Shannon.

Committed to this new life-saving venture, Shannon moved out of her office, and kennels were set up to create a permanent location for the shelter’s parvo ward.  They have since saved the lives of 500 parvo-stricken puppies. Earlier this year, Shannon was chosen by the Petco Foundation and Victoria Stillwell to receive the Unsung Hero Award for her dedication to helping puppies with parvo. Victoria and her film crew spent two days at the shelter, producing a beautiful video highlighting her work in the parvo ward. $35,000 was granted to KC Pet Project, which will allow them to continue their life-saving work.

According to Shannon, the shelter is in the process of building a new building to replace their outdated one. An expanded parvo ward will be added, which will accommodate more dogs. In the meantime, they are frequently helping six other area shelters and rescues by caring for their parvo dogs at the Kansas City facility.