Unfortunately, Rocco’s rehabilitation has met challenges that we are not able to overcome. After numerous visits to Ohana Pet Hospital in Ventura, Dr. Jill and Dr. Jan have diagnosed him with Pemphigus. This condition is an autoimmune disease where his body basically attacks itself through manifestations of the skin. Symptoms that Rocco exhibits are many oozing lesions that cause the skin to fall off. In addition to painful skin and paws, it has started to affect his mouth making it uncomfortable to eat.
Pemphigus is a disease that is common amongst puppy mill dogs which are sold in pet stores. It is suspected that Rocco was indeed a pet store purchase and his condition was probably the reason for his surrender to the shelter. Commonly, a dog lover will see a puppy in the small cage of a pet store and want to get it out of that situation. What that consumer does not understand, is that they just created the demand for another innocent victim of the circumstance. Frequently, these puppy purchases end up at veterinary clinics for multiple reasons. Some conditions might be minor, but all too often they become overwhelming health issues and financial burdens similar to Rocco’s situation.
Rocco’s wonderful foster parents, Blake & Stephanie Burgard, have made him as comfortable and happy as possible. They have worked with Dr. Jill and Dr. Jan to create a compassionate care plan for the rest of his days. Sadly, his life expectancy is only 4-6 months. During that time, his discomfort will be managed with steroids and antibiotics.
Of course, this was not the outcome that we had hoped for this sweet little guy when we first pulled him from Ventura County Animal Services. However, we are very grateful that the Burgards have decided to provide him a loving and warm atmosphere for the rest of his days. Without Rocco’s rescue he would have been euthanized weeks ago, with only the memories of his abandonment and lonely days in a shelter kennel.
While we are saddened by this outcome, it is an inspiring and critical reminder of why we need to advocate to end backyard breeding, puppy mills, and pet stores selling dogs. Both the ASPCA and the Humane Society have great web pages to educate people and provide tools for advocacy.
To learn more about puppy mills and backyard breeding visit: