Dogs Euthanized, Adoptions Suspended, After Distemper Outbreak

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 or call 311.

  • Phyliss Myers

    Maybe with this second incident of sick dogs that place will be demolished and they will build a new one. That place is a hell hole. Those poor animals. If the laws were stricter about people getting their animals vetted this would not happen as much. The state laws are not strict enough.

  • Sharon

    There have been conflicting stories about the 18 dogs euthanized – originally MDAS said that it euthanized 23 dogs while the shelter was closed on New Year’s day and AFTER they were dead, testing revealed that 18 had distemper. Now they are saying they put to sleep 18 dogs that had distemper. Is this 18 in addition to the 23 killed on New Year’s Day or is it the same 18? If it’s the same 18, they didn’t even know until after the fact that those dogs had distemper and if they did know, why did it take nearly 10 days to quarentine the shelter? MDAS is not as transparent as a governmental agency in a sunshine state should be.

    • Luis bonilla

      No govermental agency in the Sunshine State is transparent. You should know that by now.

      • Carol

        You are so right on all counts but what is so sad the innocent animals that are being killed that is what is so sad.

      • Tina

        Here Pet Animal DistemperAmy Hiatt5148 West Cherrywood LaneSalt Lake City UtahSLC Dog Sitter.comMany dog orewns, specially new dog orewns are probably to hear about distemper and how their pets wi identified in domestic pets. A dog that has distemper can pass this illness to a different dog by



  • Carol

    This building is infected so naturally when you do the cleaning it only on the surfaces but even the wood could be carrying this horrible decease that is killing these innocent animlas because it happening way to many times so the building has to be distroyed and start all over again.

    The other lady was fired because of things like this and look it has happened again twice and she isn’t there that shows you it is the building itself and needs to be torn down and that seems to be the fact.

  • Gina

    – This is Caroline it is my party and I rmbeemer having a great time. After the party was over I felt good about myself. I did a good thing and helped animals in need. I would inspire you to help people or animals today.

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