Published: May 16, 2013 3:43 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County Domestic Animal Services is warning pet owners to vaccinate their pets against highly contagious and deadly diseases. This warning comes after a spike in puppies that tested positive for Parvo Virus this past week. These puppies were brought to Animal Services for veterinary care by their owners receiving government public assistance.

“It is heartbreaking that our tax dollars must be used to euthanize canines exposed to Parvo Virus due to irresponsible owners who do not vaccinate their pets against deadly diseases. A $10 vaccine is much less expensive than treatment or euthanasia if the pet cannot be saved, not to mention the extreme pain and suffering the pet experiences. If you truly care about your pets, you will ensure they are protected through vaccination,” stated shelter director Donna Ward.

Animal Services protocols include fully vaccinating animals upon intake. Dogs less than one year of age are tested for Parvo Virus.

Parvo-virus is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces or passed along to puppies from unvaccinated nursing mothers. Common signs include severe vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. The virus can live in organic matter, such as soil, and on other hard surfaces within the household for over a year.

More information about proper pet care and a list of local veterinary, emergency, and low-cost clinics, is available at http://www.leelostpets.com.