Four young puppies are receiving life-saving treatment in intensive care after falling sick.
The eight-week-old cockapoos were rescued by RSPCA Essex South, Southend and District branch at the end of June, after being abandoned by their previous owner.
They were rushed to vets where they were diagnosed with parvovirus – a highly contagious and deadly disease that attacks the intestines.
The fluffy pups, named Huey, Louie and Chloe, have racked up a whopping £5,300 in emergency care, as they need expensive medication and tube feeding.
Branch manager, Kathy Butler, said: “Poor Huey is the weakest of the three and has been struggling to hold his head up or keep his food down.
“The staff have been feeding him little and often but his little 1kg (2.2lb) body has been battered by this awful virus.
“Louie and Chloe are a little stronger and brighter but haven’t shown any interest in eating or drinking on their own so continue to be tube and syringe fed by staff.
“They had expensive antiviral medication for three days as well as ongoing fluids and supportive care.
“Some of the staff had to feed Huey every two hours and then sit with him to prop his head up. It’s been really touch and go.”
The current vet bill totals more than £5,000 and the branch is appealing to dog lovers to help cover the cost by donating to their special appeal.
It comes just weeks after the branch took in a litter of Newfoundland puppies – two of which fell ill with parvovirus – costing them more than £3,000 in vet fees.
Thankfully they recovered and all have now been rehomed.
Kathy added: “Parvovirus is an horrific infection and, sadly, it can kill young, unvaccinated dogs very quickly.
“After taking in Huey, Louie and Chloe we also took in a fourth cockapoo puppy, called Zoe, who was displaying similar symptoms.
“The puppies came to us from a breeder via a third party and we’re incredibly concerned that we could see more pups suffering from the same hideous virus.
“We’re doing our best to help other dogs at the same site but can’t go into further detail at the moment.”
Kathy added: “We’ll be fundraising to help recoup some of the costs of the puppies’ vet care but we’re also appealing to local animal lovers to help by donating to our emergency appeal.
“We’re so grateful to anyone who can support us and help us help these innocent souls; every pound helps.”