SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Second Chance Animal Services held a free clinic to vaccinate local dogs for parvovirus on Saturday.

According to a news release sent to 22News from Second Chance Animal Services, parvovirus is a contagious illness in dogs that have become more of a problem in the Springfield area recently. It’s highly contagious and a potentially fatal infectious disease that affects mainly younger or unvaccinated dogs. It occurs after exposure to contaminated feces.

The free vaccination clinic was held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 837 State Street in Springfield. There were also free rabies vaccinations offered at the clinic.

“Citizens who have dogs have to really make sure that they are getting their dogs vaccinated against parvo because it can spread very quickly. And the issue is that it is highly contagious,” said Mary Rose-Staley of Second Chance Animal Services.

Second Chance Animal Services told 22News that dog owners are urged to check their pet’s vaccination records to be sure their pet is up to date on their distemper vaccination as well.

If you bring your furry friends to public places or you live in an apartment complex like the one here in Springfield; it can mean the difference between life and death for your dog to get them vaccinated against the virus.

Staley explained, “Bloody, watery diarrhea it causes them to be very lethargic very sickly overall…. and it does require treatments and sometimes with treatment the pet will still not make it.”

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if young or unvaccinated, you should call your veterinarian right away. For more information on when there will be more free vaccine clinics, click here.

CEO and founder Sheryl Blancato of second Chance underscored the importance of the nonprofit’s work for the community.  “We have helped over 40,000 pets in the Springfield area alone since we opened one of our hospitals here in 2015.  Second Chance first came to the area to host vaccine clinics in response to a parvo outbreak. We saw there was a great need for veterinary care for the underserved in this area and we leased space on Belmont Street to help pet owners care for their pets.  We quickly outgrew that space and moved to what is now our Community Veterinary Hospital on Mulberry Street. But the need is still so tremendous.  Our community vaccine clinics, our Homebound to the Rescue visits, and our large-scale spay/neuter missions bring veterinary care to pets who might otherwise have none.”

Second Chance’s Homebound to the Rescue brings free veterinary care for low-income housing communities, helping to keep pets and seniors together. The program is funded by generous donations and grants, such as a grant from the Banfield Foundation.