Shelter Pays Fosterers Amidst Dog Flu


Dallas Animal Services | Image by NBC DFW

Dog flu outbreaks are hitting shelters across Dallas-Fort Worth, creating a pressing need to speed up the adoption process to place dogs in homes.

Dallas Animal Services (DAS) is in desperate need of help. Hundreds of large dogs from the shelter, who have all been exposed to upper respiratory infection (URI), will be up for adoption, foster, and rescue placement, according to NBC 5. To incentivize people to help these dogs find new homes, they are offering $150 for anyone who will foster a dog for at least two weeks.

DAS, which is a government-operated shelter, has been working with professors at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine to come up with a plan in light of the URI outbreak that has swept across animal shelters and clinics in North Texas since late November, according to NBC 5.

“[URI] is not super common throughout the U.S., but when it does occur in an area, like the Dallas shelter or recently in Waco, a lot of dogs can become infected by it,” Lori Teller, associate professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, told The Dallas Morning News.

Dog flu is highly contagious, so the dogs will have to be isolated from other family pets, but humans will be relieved to know that they cannot catch it.

“We are looking to be able to create a clean break to stop the spread of illness and to do that, we’re looking for community participation to help us find placement for 150 large dogs,” said Melissa Webber, director of DAS. Adoptions at DAS are free.

If the shelter can rapidly clear the group of exposed dogs through emergency housing, it will make room for healthy dogs that have not been exposed to illness, explained Webber. She said that with the incentive scheme, the shelter is trying to be innovative and avoid loss of life by having to euthanize the infected dogs.

The DAS is calling for 150 dogs to be fostered in an initiative called 150 for 150, according to CBS. So far, 28 people have taken advantage of the offer.

“All they need is just a place to go to and have some time to be treated,” Webber said. “Hopefully, if we get an amount of time with them out of the shelter and not exposed, then that’s where the fosters will be able to bring them back and into the clean population.”

Most pets with URI will recover within one to two weeks with attention, rest, and supportive care, Webber added.

Although dog flu is highly contagious and spreads like human flu, it is not deadly. Experts say the best way to protect your dog is by getting the canine flu vaccine.

Anyone interested in fostering or adopting a pet from DAS can find more information here.

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