LOS ANGELES — East Brunswick's Jax is going back to her fans for support.

The third-place "American Idol" finalist during the show's 14th season in 2015 is raising money online to help defray the costs of hospitalization and treatment for her dog, which she says contracted a contagious and deadly viral infection while in the hands of a shady dealer.

Jax left her home in East Brunswick last fall for California to continue her career. Once she was settled, she bought a dog named Benny.

"It's my first time living alone. I've been kind of lonely, no travel buddies, nobody to cuddle with," Jax told New Jersey 101.5. She said it is difficult to buy a puppy at a California pet store due to local laws prohibiting the sale of animals unless they work with a shelter or rescue group.

She went to a couple of rescues but didn't connect with any of the puppies. She came across a Craigslist ad for Benny, a maltipoo.

Jax said when she went to pick up Benny, he was dirty, covered in his own feces and not healthy looking.

"But he was super adorable. The guy was not legit at all but I had to take the puppy. He was just so freaking cute and so friendly and cuddly and endearing. I immediately fell in love with this dog."

She said the seller went MIA and did not return any of her calls. Benny, who is Jax's first pet, at first was playful and appeared healthy. Since she had no papers on Benny she brought him to a vet to make sure he had all his shots.

The exam revealed Benny was infected with parvo, a highly contagious virus that can be deadly for dogs. His behavior changed dramatically and he stopped eating, wasn't playing, couldn't process food and was sleeping all the time.

According to pedmd.com, parvo affects the intestines and causes vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and a lack of appetite. Early vaccination in young puppies has helped reduced cases of parvo.

A Brick pet store was quarantined last April after a dog died from parvo.

The vet laid out three options for Benny's treatment, one of which was to put him to sleep. The other options were a combination of home treatment and hospitalization, which Jax said is "effective but also expensive."

Friends, shelters and vets who remembered how successfully Jax utilized Twitter to engage with her fans to garner votes on "American Idol" suggested turning to her fans for help.

Jax took their advice and created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Benny's hospitalization and has already tapped some of the donations to begin the treatments. She is also doing home treatments with syringes to keep Benny hydrated with a saline solution in hopes the virus will pass on its own.

"It's sick to see the love and support from the fans. They're going to be the reason this dog lives," Jax said.

"It is so hard falling in love with this precious little lover only for him to be essentially ripped out of my arms due to a horrible human being's scam. I am crushed," Jax wrote on the page.

Jax said she moved to California  to be closer to the music business.

"I've been recording a ton of music out here, being on the pulse and part of the scene. All my friends are out here. I am able to get so much done."

She has two singles coming out, including a Valentine's Day duet with Nash Overstreet and another one called "90s Kid."

But the focus of her attention for the moment is on getting Benny healthy.

"Now I'm invested and obsessed with the dog and we need to make sure he lives."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM