A North Texas Animal Shelter is dealing with the spread of a potentially fatal virus that has been affecting dogs in the shelter since June and is bending their puppy adoption rules in response.
The number of distemper cases at Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Shelter has increased, but the shelter now has a plan of action.
Canine distemper is a virus that infects the lungs, airways, nose, and eyes. The virus can infect the brain and suppress the immune system, resulting in illness or death.
Veterinarian Kent Glenn at the shelter explains that although dangerous, it is hard to spot the symptoms of distemper.
“I mean you just have to have a crystal ball to know if it’s going to be distemper. Then you have to have a magic wand to try to do something with it,” Glenn told NBC.
The key to stopping the spread of the virus, according to a public health website, is isolating unvaccinated dogs before vaccination and especially keeping them away from other sick animals.
According to Glenn, now they are focusing on stopping the spread by testing as many animals as possible.
“It’s like a five-day turnaround from the time that we run the PCR test until we have the results back,” said Glenn.
Since the virus has an incubation period of one to six weeks, it is hard to separate the dogs since PCR tests take time to show results.
As Glenn put it, “Well if an animal is shedding that virus during that time, that’s possibly a lot of exposure.”
If you have been thinking about getting a dog, this may be your chance.
In light of the crisis situation, instead of having to wait until a pup is 6 weeks old, Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Shelter is allowing them to be adopted immediately.
Assistant Director Chris McAllister told NBC that the faster the puppies are adopted, the more likely they are to avoid the virus, to which they are especially vulnerable.