The animal care organization is taking measures against distemper, needs public’s help.
The S.P.C.A. of Texas has announced a two-week suspension of intakes and adoptions at all of its shelters, including the Ellis County Animal Care Center, in order to ensure that all of its dogs are disease-free for adoption.
Following a positive distemper test for only two dogs taken in by the animal care organization, the S.P.C.A. of Texas immediately put all animals in all its shelters into quarantine. The move is a proactive measure prescribed by the organization’s veterinary staff to prevent the spread of the distemper virus that affects dogs and wildlife and is often fatal. People are not affected by distemper.
Animal caretakers have seen a surge in the rate of distemper infection throughout the state in recent months, among both wildlife and dogs. Many Texas animal care facilities have already been affected by the viral spread, including shelters in both the Dallas-Fort Worth area and near Lubbock.
Distemper infections affect a dog’s respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system. Symptoms range from no visible signs of illness to mild respiratory issues such as a runny nose and eyes to severe respiratory symptoms, thickened foot pads or nose skin, seizures, neurological deficits and decline. Animals can be contagious for months. Animals given medical care can survive the course of infection, though some die.
The infection is easily prevented by a vaccine that has a 99% effectiveness rate.
“This disease is highly preventable when dogs are properly vaccinated,” said Dr. Amber Alu, S.P.C.A. of Texas chief medical officer. “The vaccine is effective and is far less expensive than treating the disease or losing your pet to the virus. I highly recommend all dog and ferret owners make sure their pets’ distemper vaccination is up to date. Dog owners should also use caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs where dogs congregate such as parks.”
The Ellis County Animal Care Center will be closed to adopters, volunteers and community members until at least June 22, 2022. Adoptions and animals outside of the shelter are unaffected. Offsite adoptions of cats and kittens at Dallas-area PetSmart stores will continue as will adoptions of equine and livestock at the S.P.C.A. of Texas’ Equine Center in McKinney. Some foster dogs will be available for adoption by appointment. Additionally, the S.P.C.A. of Texas’ Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Veterinary Care Clinic will remain open to the public. Food and supply pickups for the Russell H. Perry Pet Resource Center will continue, and clients will be met at their cars. The Ellis County Animal Care Center will quarantine bite case animals. Urgent Animal Cruelty Investigations intake will also continue.
“The S.P.C.A. of Texas respectfully asks for the public’s patience as we do everything in our power to protect and care for the animals in our facilities and in our community,” said Karen Froehlich, president & C.E.O. of S.P.C.A. of Texas. “This situation indicates that canine distemper virus is circulating in the community, and the S.P.C.A. of Texas urges all pet owners to vaccinate all of their pets against all species-appropriate diseases under the direction of their veterinarian as well as to have their pet spayed or neutered and microchipped.”
The S.P.C.A. of Texas ensures that all dogs adopted from its shelters are vaccinated and disease-free. The quarantine has been implemented as part of the organization’s mission to provide exceptional care to every animal. Suspension of activities at its shelters and quarantining animals will come at a large expense to the S.P.C.A. of Texas. Any donation made through the organization’s support page, even as little as $5, may help the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization meet the needs of the animals in its care.