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Dogs Euthanized, Adoptions Suspended, After Distemper Outbreak

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – All dog adoptions at Miami-Dade County Animal Services have been suspended following an outbreak of Canine Distemper.

Over the weekend, 23 dogs became sick and shelter officials fear it could be distemper. That is because they confirmed 18 cases of the illness more than a week ago.

On January 1st they euthanized 23 dogs before they received the test results. This time, shelter officials said they will wait on the test results before euthanizing any more animals.

“Distemper is a very deadly virus and its very contagious,” said Dr. Maria Serrano, Chief Veterinarian. “So the prognosis once the dogs are infected and showing neurologic signs is very poor.

Distemper is a viral infection which is commonly spread through airborne particles.

The existing canine population at Animal Services is being tested and quarantined for two weeks. During this time, the dogs will be closely monitored for symptoms of the disease and receive antibiotic treatment for secondary bacterial infections.

“You can see how easily the disease can spread through a shelter setting like this,” said Kathleen Labrada, of Miami Dade Animal Services. “This building is not designed for the purpose that we’re using it for. It just takes one dog that’s shedding the virus to cough and it’s completely open, the kennels are open, it just spreads like wildfire.”

The situation should improve when the shelter moves into its new building in December of 2013. The new building has appropriate quarantine areas to limit diseases from spreading.

“It will have its own separate air system and we’ll be able to do more to protect the health of the pets that we’re entrusted to care for,” said Labrada.

The dogs will be available for adoption after successful completion of the quarantine period.

The shelter is also offering free distemper testing for dogs adopted there between Dec. 24, 2011 and Jan. 6, 2012.

Dogs must be showing symptoms in order to qualify for free testing.  Symptoms include: runny nose, watery eyes, coughing, fever, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Free testing is available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 7401 Northwest 74th Street through Saturday Jan. 14th.

Cats are not affected and can still be adopted.

Other services still available during normal operating hours include purchasing a license, citation payments, lost and found, and return to owner.

Temporarily suspended services for dogs include adoption/rescue, rabies/microchip clinic, spay/neuter surgeries, owner surrender intake, stray intake, and stray pick-up by animal control officers.

This isn’t the first time the Miami-Dade Animal Services has reported a distemper outbreak. On March 25, 2011 CBS4 reported that the facility temporarily stopped taking in dogs and puppies until they were able to get a possible outbreak of distemper under control. Read more here.

For more information visit www.miamidade.gov/animals or call 311.

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