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Dog flu outbreak, 3 deaths lead Wake County Animal Center to close shelter for at least 35 days

The spread of dog flu has led to three dog deaths at the Wake County Animal Center, forcing the shelter to close to the public for over a month.

Posted Updated

Aaron Thomas
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — The spread of dog flu has led to three dog deaths at the Wake County Animal Center, forcing the shelter to close to the public for over a month.

In response to a recent outbreak of canine influenza, the shelter will close beginning Friday, Oct. 6, for at least 35 days to help stop the illness from spreading.

"We cannot take animals in this facility while we’re on lockdown," Jennifer Federico, DVM, Director, Wake County Animal Center, said.

The center will also stop accepting animals and pause other services to prevent new cases. There are currently 435 animals being cared for between the shelter and foster care.

“As our community knows all too well, the number of pets coming to us has been pushing our shelter past capacity for well over a year – and unfortunately, it’s that situation – tons of dogs living together in one space – that’s the perfect breeding ground for viruses like this,” said Wake County Commissioner Cheryl Stallings. “Animal Center staff are working overtime trying to quarantine, treat and care for these pets – but to do it most effectively, we need to temporarily close. It’s not a decision we’re taking lightly.”

As of Friday, approximately 61 dogs have been diagnosed with upper respiratory infections since Sept. 15. The center said that number is unusually high.

"Unfortunately, this has spread rapidly. a lot of dogs are not immune to it," Federico, said. "It’s not something a lot of people vaccinate for."

Cases of dog flu have been on the rise across North Carolina, with veterinarians reporting that many dogs are picking up the respiratory illness after stays at boarding or day care facilities.

Veterinarian Dr. Bradley Krohn shared some warning signs to look out for when checking your dog for illness. Data shows that late fall and early winter is generally when dog flu spreads.

"This would be coughing in dogs, nasal discharge," Krohn said. "Those are certainly some big signs that we see. As dogs become more infected and more ill, there can be fever and lethargy, and pets can be off food."

While most dogs recover after two-to-three weeks, the animals can experience anywhere from no symptoms to secondary infections that lead to pneumonia and sometimes death. The virus spreads through the respiratory droplets when dogs cough or sneeze and there are cases of the virus being transmitted to cats.

As staff members work to quarantine, treat and care for the affected animals in the shelter over the next month, the WCAC will have some services affected, including:

  • Adoptions: Adoptions of all pets, including dogs, cats and other small animals, are being paused. This means the October Pit Bull adoption special has been cancelled.
  • Community Pet Days: Community Pet Days have been cancelled as well.
  • Surrenders: The Wake County Animal Center will NOT allow owners to surrender any animals during this closure. Anyone with an existing appointment to surrender a pet will be notified of their cancellation.
  • Animal Control: All five Animal Control agencies across county (Wake County, Raleigh, Cary, Garner and Holly Springs) will continue responding to emergency animal calls, however, they will not be picking up strays or owner surrenders in the field.
  • Animal bite: The Animal Center often holds pets on quarantine following bite incidents, however, at this time, those animals will need to be quarantined instead at veterinary offices or in private homes.


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