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Distemper outbreak closes Wayne animal shelter

Posted April 12, 2012

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— The Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center will close for several weeks after puppies infected with distemper were brought into the shelter this week, officials said Thursday.

Although there will be no dogs accepted from pet owners and no adoptions from the center for the next three weeks, staff will continue to pick up stray animals, officials said.

“We don’t want to take any chances with this spreading,” Wayne County Animal Control Director Vicki Falconer said in a statement. “That’s why we decided to close the shelter for the next few weeks. We will spend the time cleaning the building and scrubbing the porous surfaces every day.”

The distemper virus spreads through aerosol droplets and through contact with infected bodily fluids from six to 22 days after exposure. It can also be spread by food and water contaminated with these fluids.

The virus is destroyed by routine cleaning with disinfectants. It does not survive in the environment for more than a few hours at room temperature but can survive for a few weeks in shady environments.

Shelter staffers are working with local veterinarians to determine the scope of the infection and the best way to manage the outbreak. Dogs at the shelter exhibiting symptoms of distemper will have to be euthanized, but healthy dogs will not be euthanized, officials said.

Distemper can be avoided if pet owners vaccinate their animals, and the shelter routinely vaccinates dogs upon arrival, officials said, adding that the vaccine doesn't work if an animal is already infected but doesn't show symptoms.


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  • pawsibilities Apr 16, 2012

    This continues to happen over and over again. Parvo and distemper outbreaks at shelters happen, and we all get that. We also understand that this battle is more common in warmer climates. But, does this mean we can't do better???? The way that the outbreaks are addressed (killing all the dogs) and then managed (continuing intake, adopting out, and/or allowing rescues to pull during a known outbreak) is negligent and unacceptable. Furthermore, keeping the outbreak quiet seems to be more important than informing those who adopted or pulled animals that may have been infected. Of course, not all shelters follow this protocol, but certainly more than a few do, as we became aware of in February. Documentation, and online dialogue amongst advocate group members provided evidence that this is in fact fairly common practice. Very sad for the animals impacted, and for those of us who try to save them-

  • barwickgenelle Apr 16, 2012

    We adopted our Dog Axel from there on March 1st. He was well for 2 days. Became very sick we took him to the vet several times and he was treated for different problems. In the end we found out that it was the Distemper. When I called the pound last week and asked if any other cases had been reported, they said NO! Then I see this write up in our paper on Friday. He was put down on Saturday Morning at 9:00. When I called the poound they are closed. People need to know that it wasn't just in the last week but from 6 weeks before that. I am so mad with them!

  • Scubagirl Apr 12, 2012

    so sad, it's a terrible disease and one that my furkids are always up to date on their shots against.

  • packgirl12 Apr 12, 2012

    "If they have no home they should be euthanized and if they are sick. Or you can raise taxes to pay for it all." --Arthur

    While we're at it, let's just kill all of our homeless citizens and stop paying for the homeless shelters...

  • carlostheass Apr 12, 2012

    "If they have no home they should be euthanized and if they are sick. Or you can raise taxes to pay for it all." --Arthur

    You want us to pay taxes for your cause, so pay taxes to support the shelters. Besides, the major difference between running an animal shelter and running a prison is that the animals didn't do anything to end up where they did.

  • Frank Downtown Apr 12, 2012

    If they have no home they should be euthanized and if they are sick. Or you can raise taxes to pay for it all.

  • STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 Apr 12, 2012

    That's so sad! These poor dogs don't have a chance. I hate seeing any animal euthanized.

    Our two dogs are always UTD on their shots, and this makes me even more determined to make sure I stay on top of it.