SPCA of Texas Ellis County Animal Care Center reopens after outbreak

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The S.P.C.A. of Texas Ellis County Animal Care Center is once again open in Waxahachie, Texas and getting back to a normal routine.

After two months of quarantine, the S.P.C.A. of Texas Ellis County Animal Care Center is opening back up for adoptions.

Starting Tuesday, August 9, 2022, the animal shelter and adoption center will resume its normal business hours of Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. The reopening comes two months after the shelter closed to ensure that dogs at the shelter were safe from canine distemper virus.

Front of SPCA of Texas Ellis County Aninal Care Center in Waxahachie Texas
The S.P.C.A. of Texas Ellis County Animal Care Center is open again for adoptions.

“We’re just excited that things are moving and we have animals that are going to be going home soon — animals that are coming in as strays, and oh my goodness, it’s been a journey,” says Maura Davies, S.P.C.A. of Texas vice president of marketing and communications.

In early June, a dog taken in by the organization tested positive for C.D.V., which prompted the organization to close the shelter, pause adoptions and isolate all dogs that had been exposed to the virus. Maura explains that because C.D.V. can remain asymptomatic for as long as two weeks and never shows any signs in half of the dogs who catch it, testing to ensure that all dogs were clear of the disease was initiated on a two-week basis until all tests conclusively showed negative results in every dog in the shelter. During the term, any dog with a positive test was moved to the S.P.C.A. of Texas Myron K. Martin Clinic which has a contained H.V.A.C. system and the resources to isolate and treat infected animals until they recover.

The Myron K. Martin Clinic is one of two veterinary clinics that the organization operates in Dallas, and the clinic will remain closed to the public while the organization continues to care for dogs infected by the virus that has spread throughout North Texas in an outbreak that began in 2021.

“It’s very, very difficult to pinpoint the location of the distemper because we may have received more than one dog that came in with the canine distemper virus. So, what this tells us however, is there is distemper circulating in the community,” Maura says. “And so dogs that have not been vaccinated, that do not have that immunity to distemper are more at risk. So, stray animals, animals that have not been vaccinated — those are more likely to come down with distemper because their immunity is low.”

Canine distemper virus can 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 infection, though some die. Canine distemper virus does not infect people.

The infection is easily prevented in dogs by a vaccine that has a 99% effectiveness rate. All dogs available for adoption through the S.P.C.A. of Texas have been vaccinated against C.D.V. and have received all other appropriate vaccinations.

During the containment effort, all shelters operated by the organization paused dog adoptions and closed to the public, reopening one by one only after each location was determined to be clear of the virus. Every dog was tested during the closure on a two-week schedule, and because of the hundreds of dogs cared for by the S.P.C.A. of Texas, the organization’s veterinary staff labored around the clock to meet the needs for the dogs recovering from the virus while continuing to spay, neuter, vaccinate and give general care to the rest of the animals being prepared for their day of adoption.

The effort has mounted huge expense for the organization, funded by the generosity of S.P.C.A. of Texas supporters.

“People can have confidence that the S.P.C.A. of Texas has done everything within our power and resources to ensure everything is done to make sure animals are coming out of all of our facilities, especially our adoption facilities — that these these guys are testing negative for distemper and we want to send these guys to loving homes,” she says. ‘We want people to have happy, healthy animals.”

Visit the S.P.C.A. of Texas Find a Pet page to view adoptable animals.

To donate to the cause, visit the S.P.C.A. of Texas donations page.


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