Maricopa County animal shelter temporarily closed due to distemper outbreak
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Maricopa County Animal Care & Control announced the temporary closure of its east Valley shelter due to a potential disease outbreak among its dogs.
MCACC says eight dogs at the shelter located at 2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway have tested positive for distemper, a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. In addition, the shelter says several other dogs are starting to show symptoms of the illness, which include fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, and neurological ticks. The disease is passed through barking, coughs, sneezes, saliva, urine, and feces.
“Distemper is probably one of our worst nightmares,” said Kim Powell, spokesperson for the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control Shelter. “It’s a highly contagious and deadly disease that only affects dogs, but when it does affect them, unfortunately there is no cure for it.”
MCACC will close the east Valley shelter starting Sunday at 5 p.m. until further notice. During the closure, staff at the shelter will test about 300 dogs for the virus and determine the next steps for care. The shelter is actively working on stopping the spread of the virus by consulting with veterinarians and the Midwestern University Shelter and Community Medicine Program faculty. Any dogs that test negative for the virus will likely be moved to a different animal shelter in the county and will be back up for adoption.
MCACC is asking the community to check that all your pets are up to date on their vaccinations. They are also looking for more volunteers to help with their west Valley shelter. MCACC says that all adoption fees will be waived at both shelter locations during this time.
Those interested in adopting a dog at the east shelter can “blind adopt,” meaning there will be no meet and greet, but dogs can be seen through the kennel. “We understand that people might be a little hesitant right now to adopt, especially from our east facility. If you recently adopted, we have a counselor who will walk you through everything you need to know about distemper just in case they do start to show symptoms,” Powell explained.
The shelter will provide updates on the outbreak situation in the coming days.
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