City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The shelter is seeking fosters for healthy dogs.
Austin Animal Center (AAC) has seen an increase in canines entering the shelter with the distemper virus. AAC needs the community’s help to move healthy dogs out of the shelter and into foster or adoptive homes in order to separate them from, and create isolation space for sick dogs.
Since mid-July, AAC has seen six confirmed distemper cases and several presumptive cases. Additional disease control measures have been put in place to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading, however, because the shelter consistently operates above capacity, creating additional space for isolation has become increasingly difficult.
“We worked with our partners in 2018 when we had a distemper outbreak to develop lifesaving protocols,” said AAC’s head veterinarian Dr. Debbie Elliott. “Unfortunately with the overcrowding, we’re struggling to effectively manage the disease spread through isolation.”
In order to create that space, AAC needs 60 healthy dogs to move into foster or adoptive homes as soon as possible. First-time fosters can visit the shelter any day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to sign up and bring a dog home.
“Distemper has been prevalent in our community this summer, having devastating effects on some shelters. We are committed to stopping the spread,” said Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland. “We need the community’s help.”
Distemper is a virus that primarily affects unvaccinated dogs. The virus can impact all systems in the body, but typically starts with upper respiratory symptoms and may progress to neurological symptoms if left untreated. The virus is spread through mucous, respiratory secretions, saliva, and urine. Fortunately, it does not live on surfaces for very long and is susceptible to many disinfectants.
“Vaccinating your dog against distemper is crucial for preventing the spread of this virus,” Dr. Elliott said. Visiting the shelter is safe and poses minimal to no risk to owned vaccinated dogs at home.
Recent adopters should be aware of the symptoms of distemper such as: lack of interest in food, extreme lethargy, severe nasal discharge, severe coughing, muscle tremors or seizures, changes in skin condition or inability to walk straight. Visit your veterinarian immediately if any of these symptoms are observed.