Dog battling severe valley fever surrendered for euthanasia, needs your help

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The Animals Benefit Club believes Delilah's valley fever went undiagnosed and untreated for more than a year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Animals Benefit Club believes Delilah's valley fever went undiagnosed and untreated for more than a year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Animals Benefit Club of Arizona needs your help to save a dog who is fighting for her life, battling a severe case of valley fever that went undiagnosed -- and untreated -- for probably more than a year.

Delilah,  a boxer, was surrendered to a local animal clinic for euthanasia, according to Andra Jeffress of ABC. The dog was emaciated and weak but had not seen a vet to determine why.

Blood tests revealed that Delilah has valley fever, a potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by spores in the dirt.

Valley fever is relatively common in Arizona and the Southwest – both in dogs and in humans who inhale the spores that are released when dust kicks up.

Last year, more than 6,000 Arizonans were diagnosed with valley fever.

[RELATED: Valley fever cases surged in Arizona in November]

[VIDEO: New valley fever test available in 2018]

For dogs, contracting the fungal infection can be as simple as sniffing in loose soil.

While dangerous, valley fever is treatable. With proper care, patients -- two- and four-legged -- can recover to live a long and healthy life. Also, valley fever is not contagious.

Delilah has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks. When she was first brought in, she was so thin you could count her ribs and vertebrae. Some might find the photos disturbing.

[GRAPHIC PHOTO: See Delilah when she arrived at ABC]

“We are desperate for the public to step up and help this dog,” Jeffress said. “This is going to be an extremely expensive case and we are not giving up on her. We are not.”

To let an animal suffer like this – to this point – is not acceptable. It’s unconscionable and it’s wrong.

Symptoms of valley fever include coughing, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy.

While Delilah’s valley fever might not have been preventable, she did not have to get as sick as she is.

“This could have all been avoided with an exam, a blood test and medication. She would not be like this,” Jeffress said. “Any change in your dog, you should see a veterinarian to determine [what’s causing it].

Delilah’s circumstances should be a reminder to all pet owners.

[MORE: Animal news]

“The moral to this story is please do not ignore signs of illness in your dog,” Jeffress said. “If you are going to accept responsibility for an animal, please make sure it gets appropriate veterinary care.

“To let an animal suffer like this – to this point – is not acceptable,” she continued. “It’s unconscionable and it’s wrong.”

Over the summer, the University of Arizona received a grant to work on a valley fever vaccine for dogs. That research could lead to a vaccine for humans.

[RELATED: Genetic tests on pets could lead to better treatments for valley fever]

While the treatment for valley fever is not difficult, it can be costly. The unexpected expenses can put a strain on families, particularly if they're already struggling. Owners might think they have no choice but to surrender their dog to a shelter. 

The Arizona Pet Project, another nonprofit organization, tries to keep that from happening. Its goal is to keep families and pets together and it will do what it can to help. That includes providing financial and medical assistance when possible.

[READ MORE: Nonprofit helps families reluctant to surrender dogs to shelter]

Delilah's situation is what The Arizona Pet Project wants to avoid.

"We’re here to support families by keeping their pets healthy and safe," the organization's website reads.

Now that she's with ABC, Delilah is doing better, but she's facing months of treatment and her medical bills are going to run into the thousands of dollars. If you would like to help, visit and click Delilah’s picture.

“All donations will go directly to this dog,” Jeffress explained. “ABC does not have paid administration or management. We are all volunteers.”

[RELATED: No-kill rescue animal shelter helps Pay it Forward to devoted volunteer]

You can donate online or by sending a check to Animals Benefit Club. 3111 E. St. John Road, Phoenix, AZ 85032. Please include “Delilah Critical Care” in your PayPal or check description.

Donations are also tax deductible.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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