Intakes halted at local shelter

Shelter halts dog intakes due to canine distemper

Shelter remains open for cat, kitten and other animal adoptions



The Animal Welfare League has suspended dog intakes after three dogs displaced by Hurricane Florence were diagnosed with canine distemper.

“Canine distemper is contagious, but not to humans or cats,” said Animal Welfare League veterinarian Dr. Jill Kirk in an AWL press release.

On Oct. 3, the Port Charlotte shelter took in 18 dogs displaced from their homes in Robeson County, North Carolina. Three subsequently were diagnosed with canine distemper.

Area residents can still visit the shelter to adopt cats, kittens and other animals. The shelter, however, will not be accepting strays and owner surrenders, nor will it be open for dog adoptions until further notice.

Distemper virus affects

a dog’s respiratory, digestive and central nervous systems, according to the release. The first signs are often nasal discharge and coughing, which are also the first signs of many

One of the many dogs that were transported from North Carolina to the Animal Welfare League in Port Charlotte


common respiratory pathogens.

Dogs suffering from the illness can also have diarrhea, vomiting and a lack of appetite. Some dogs will have neurological signs such as tremors, stumbling gait and seizures. This disease can be life-threatening, but it is treatable.

“The good news is, the commonly used distemper vaccine is very effective in preventing dogs from becoming infected with the virus,” said Kirk.

The vast majority of dogs in the Charlotte County shelter were vaccinated during the time of potential exposure, according to Kirk.

“We are hopeful we won’t see any more cases,” she said.

AWL has been working closely with infectiousdisease experts at the University of Florida’sMaddie’s Shelter Medicine program to ensure deployment of all proper protocols

to avoid any further spread of the illness.

To do so effectively, AWL must assume all dogs housed in the local shelter on or after Oct. 3 “be considered” exposed.

“This is the difficult part of rescuing animals,” said AWL Executive Director Karen Slomba.

AWL is contacting all adopters from this period to check on the health status of their dogs.

“Inevitably, all shelters experience situations like this,” said Slomba. “When it happens, you do everything in your power to minimize the impact of the illness and protect the animals in your care. We will keep everyone informed.”

For more information, call Karen Slomba at the Animal Welfare League at 941-625-6720.


Courtesy of The Charlotte Sun

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