Shelter Scrubbed Down After Distemper Outbreak

MIAMI (CBS4) – Workers at Miami-Dade’s Animal Services are getting down and dirty Tuesday while disinfecting the shelter in Medley after an outbreak of canine distemper.

Volunteers are busy scrubbing away inside the dog kennel, removing every last hair and fiber which could be contaminated.

“Unfortunately we don’t have proper drainage here so we have a drainage company that comes once a month to clean the drains, they’ll be coming tomorrow so we’re prepping everything for them,” explained Dr. Sara Pizano, Director of Animal Services. “We’re removing everything that we can, throwing away everything that we can, disinfecting what we can, and then tomorrow we’ll do it all again for the last time.”

Before the cleaning could take place, however, the animals had to go. When word got out that the dogs had to be adopted or placed with temporary caregivers or else face euthanasia, South Florida showed up in force.

“We saved over 500 animals between Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The community came out in full force, our rescue partners were amazing. People were camped in the lobby, people waited six to seven hours to adopt,” said Dr. Pizano.

To make adoptions easier, Animal Services waived their normal fees for dogs. Those fees have since been reinstated.

Monday morning workers began cleaning and disinfecting the shelter which is located at 7401 NW 74th Street. The dogs which had not been adopted or moved were relocated to an air conditioned 40 by 40 tent in the parking lot. Currently, only 3 dogs remain in the tent.

While the cleaning is underway, the Rabies/Microchip Clinic will be closed. Also, there will be no intake of dogs and puppies. Services that will continue as normal include investigations, buying licenses, paying citations, lost and found, intake of cats, cat adoptions, spaying and neutering of cats and the mobile animal clinic spay and neuter program.

Animal Services is also asking for donations of dog toys which can easily be disinfected; they’re usually made out of thick plastic, no hollow balls or toys in which water can get inside. They’re also in need of a company to donate fencing and a concrete slab to improve the cleaning process during adoptions.

There is no cure for distemper, which is a highly contagious canine virus. Most dogs with distemper suffer from gastrointestinal and respiratory problems like diarrhea, fever, cough, runny nose and vomiting, as well as neurological complications. Distemper can be prevented with vaccinations.


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