The Animal Welfare Society (AWS) will not have any adoptions for the next week due to the discovery of distemper among the dogs.
The volunteers with the Adoption Center discovered one dog dead this week from distemper and had another put down that they suspect brought the disease in to the center.
“We’re going to sit it out and wait,” said Jean Eslick, president of the AWS. “We give the dogs their shots when they come in and quarantine them, but if they bring the disease in with them …”
She expressed concern and that people should be aware that the virus is in the community somewhere.
A vaccine which dogs can get at 6-weeks-old and older is the only known way to fight the disease.
The mortality rate depends on the immune status of the infected dog. Puppies from three to six months old are particularly susceptible because they have not built up immunity.
It is a virus closely related to that which causes measles in humans.
House cats are not affected by canine distemper. While they do get distemper it is a different virus and exclusive to cats.
Signs of distemper include a runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, excessive salivation, labored breathing, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
"Every month we go without a disaster, I am amazed and grateful," Eslick said. "We (the center’s volunteers) are ‘greenhorns’ with limited knowledge."
She encourages both the volunteers at the center and pet owners in general to observe their animals.
"Don’t think that a dog lying down is just tired," Eslick said. "Animals don’t get tired that easily.
"If you suspect your pet has distemper, take him or her to the veterinarian."