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Autopsy confirms Valley family's suspicions that vaccine caused dog's death

Five weeks after the sudden death of his beloved dog, Milo, Jason Baez is still reeling with anger and devastation over his family’s loss. 

Five weeks after the sudden death of his beloved dog, Milo, Jason Baez is still reeling with anger and devastation over his family’s loss.

“It's painful, it's painful,” Baez told 12 News.

“We already knew as a family that he was a strong healthy dog,” Baez said, “there was nothing wrong with him.”

In a previous story, 12 News reported how Milo, a 1-and-a-half-year-old pit bull, died after getting vaccinated at the Banfield Pet Hospital inside the Deer Valley PetSmart.

READ: Valley family's dog dies under mysterious circumstances after trip to vet

“There was nothing that he had prior to that,” said Melissa Baez, “No sickness, so it was an instant reaction to the vaccine.”

The family immediately suspected a vaccine, most likely rabies, caused it. Suspicions that were confirmed last week with the release of Milo's necropsy report.

The report found Milo’s cause of death was likely anaphylactic shock, triggered by a vaccine.

While it isn’t uncommon for pets to have an adverse reaction to a vaccine, most are minor. Anaphylaxis is one of the rarest and most severe types of reactions.

“Yes he suffered and he suffered bad,” said Jason, “and he shouldn't have suffered like that, no dog or animal should ever suffer like this at all.”

12 News reached out to Banfield. Dr. Ari Zabell, a client advocate at Banfield Pet Hospital, sent this statement to 12 News regarding Milo’s death:

“At Banfield, we know how heartbreaking it can be to lose a member of the family. Although Milo had received these and other vaccines in the past without any adverse reaction, and such a response remains extremely rare, we were incredibly sad to learn an anaphylactic reaction to one of the vaccines was likely the cause of his passing. We immediately reported the incident to the vaccine manufacturers and will continue to remain in contact. Our hearts go out to Milo’s family during this difficult time.”

“We’re going to fight this to the end,” said Jason.

What happened to Milo is why the Baez family is now part of a growing group of pet owners taking aim at the traditional way pets are vaccinated.

Recent studies have argued that pets may not need them as often as we think.

“It is the same debate that it is with kids,” said Melisa Gable, a spokesperson for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

Gable says pet owners should do their research and talk to their vet about what’s needed for their pet because, while there are risks, vaccines can also save a pet’s life especially when it comes to younger pets like puppies and kittens.

“Don't automatically say ‘I'm going to stop vaccinating because it's bad’, look at both sides and figure out what's best for you and your pet,” she said.

Milo’s family also wants people to do more research and consider what type of care they’re giving their pet, especially because so many are more like family.

“We're not going to let him die in vain,” said Melissa Baez, “we want people to be educated and know that this can happen to anyone, it happened to us.”

The Baez family is still in talks with Banfield regarding any resolution to their dog's death.

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