Montcalm County commissioners vote to pay family that adopted parvo dog

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:09 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Stonehouse family of Grandville adopted Phoebe from the Montcalm County Animal Shelter. The puppy was infected with parvo virus. — Courtesy photo

STANTON — A family from Grandville adopted a puppy from the Montcalm County Animal Shelter earlier this year.

After weeks of searching, Justin and Lisa Stonehouse and their four children decided to adopt a golden Labarador retriever mix they named Phoebe. The puppy was spayed, received her shots and relocated to a new home. She and her new family immediate fell in love.

However, within 18 hours the family noticed some changes in Phoebe. She stopped eating her treats and food and refused to drink water. She began sleeping hard and vomiting when she awoke.

The family brought her to a veterinarian, who confirmed the puppy had parvo — a virus that, if untreated, is fatal to dogs.

Knowing the outcome would be fatal if Phoebe wasn’t treated, the Stonehouse family paid $345.50 to try to save Phoebe’s life.

“How could we not treat this pup that had captured our children’s hearts, as well as our own?” stated Stonehouse in a letter detailing the ordeal to the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners.

The puppy remained at the vet for six days and, thankfully, made a full recovery. The Stonehouse family was thrilled, but at a financial cost.

“We maintain that it be only fair that the treatment for the parvo virus, which was confirmed by the vet to be present at the time of purchase, should be the responsibility of the Animal Shelter,” Stonehouse stated in his letter. “In no way are we implying that the shelter knowingly sold us Phoebe with the virus, but nevertheless she was infected when we adopted her.”

Stonehouse asked the Board of Commissioners to reimburse the $345.50 spent on Phoebe’s treatment.

Commissioners voted to reimburse $150 to the Stonehouse family — but not without several dissenting votes.

“I think we are setting a precedent that we will always pay half the bill or something along those lines,” said Commissioner Lloyd Walker of Greenville.

“I’d be more inclined to reimburse him (Stonehouse) what he actually paid us (for adopting from the Animal Shelter) rather than his demand,” said Commissioner Ron Baker of Howard City.

According to Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer, the average cost for adopting a  dog from the Animal Shelter is about $90.

“I think the important thing is that we do something,” said Commissioner Roger Caris of Vestaburg. “I don’t think $150 is out of line. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

“I agree,” said Chairman Patrick Q. Carr of Lakeview. “I think we should make it right.”
Commissioners voted 6-3 to reimburse $150 to the Stonehouse family.

Baker, Walker and Commissioner Tom Lindeman of Greenville cast the dissenting votes.

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