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Dade Shelter Dealing With Possible Distemper Outbreak

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade’s Animal Services has temporarily stopped taking in dogs and puppies until they can get a possible outbreak of distemper under control.

As for the dogs and puppies they are currently sheltering, spokeswoman Xiomara Mordcovich said they will get as many as they can to other rescue shelters or adopted them out. So far they have not imposed a deadline as to when they all have to be out.

Once the shelter, at 7401 NW 74th Street, is empty it will be sterilized.

“Eventually (the animals) would be euthanized but there wont be any large-scale euthanasia today,” said Dr. Sara Pizano, Director of Miami-Dade Animal Services. “Were sending animals home when people want them.”

Other services which have also been temporarily suspended include the Rabies/Microchip Clinic, stray dog pick up by Animal Control Officers (if unconfined) and all spay/neuter surgery for current shelter dogs and puppies.

“There should be some sort of a back-up plan,” said dog owner Jorge Rodriguez, whose dog was one of the last to receive a rabies vaccine before the lockdown. ” This should have been planned out.”

Distemper is caused by an unidentified virus and characterized by lethargy, fever, inflammation of the mucous membranes, sensitivity to light and vomiting.

Mordcovich said trying to control the spread of infectious diseases is a challenge for every open admission shelter. Many dogs and puppies are not vaccinated prior to entering shelters and are incubating viruses, such as Parvo and Distemper.

Distemper, in particular, has become endemic in the shelter and all dogs and puppies are ill or considered exposed and at risk. In Fiscal Year 2009-2010, 36,000 animals were abandoned at Animal Services, creating overcrowding and stressful conditions for the shelter pets, which leads to the spread of infectious diseases.

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