The BC SPCA is warning Victoria dog owners to make sure their pets are vaccinated against distemper and parvovirus as they investigate the death of a puppy.

The puppy is believed to have come from Central Saanich and was living in a pet-friendly apartment building in Victoria, the organization said. The animal was also taken to a veterinary clinic at Our Place Society on Pandora Avenue.

“This means the puppy may have potentially exposed many other dogs to both diseases,” said Erika Paul, senior animal protection officer for BC SPCA. “Distemper, especially, is highly contagious and often fatal.”

While parvo is not uncommon in puppies and is treatable, canine distemper virus is rarely seen today because of a protective vaccine developed in the 50s.

With a 50 per cent mortality rate, the disease was once the leading cause of canine death because it is spread by airborne droplets.

Distemper is not contagious to humans but can infect all domestic and wild dogs, raccoons and skunks.

The SPCA investigation into the puppy’s death is ongoing, and both criminal and cruelty charges could be recommended against its owner based on the evidence that is collected.