MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you’re looking for a new four legged friend, Miami-Dade Animal Services has resumed pet adoptions after being shut down for weeks due to an outbreak of Canine Distemper.
The distemper concerns first showed up earlier this month, forcing the shelter to go on lockdown at one point, to prevent the virus from spreading. In early January, 23 dogs at the shelter, located at 7401 NW 74th Street, became sick. Eighteen of the dogs were confirmed to have the illness.
Distemper, a viral infection, is extremely contagious so officials at the shelter quarantined the dogs for two weeks. During that time, the dogs were monitored for symptoms and received antibiotic treatments for secondary bacterial infections.
But after weeks of cleaning, testing, vaccinations and quarantines for nearly 70 of the dogs, Animal Services announced it has resumed all of its services including pet adoptions, spay and neuter surgeries, vaccination and microchip clinic, stray and owner surrender intake and stray pick-up by animal control officers.
Dogs have been waiting for this day for weeks, CBS4’s Tiffani Helberg reported.
“This is a tremendous setback for the department and for the community,” said Kathleen Labrada, Animal Services manager. “This disease is a community issue. It’s related to unvaccinated pets in our community coming into the shelter environment and then that disease spreading throughout the shelter.”
Animal Services said a total of 44 dogs had to be euthanize, with slightly more than half of them were confirmed through testing to have the disease.
“There were additional dogs euthanized, not necessarily due to the distemper virus,” Labrada said. “Dogs that were injured or may have had skin conditions or other contagious upper respiratory diseases were euthanized as well.”
Notably, some of the dogs are still showing low levels of virus in their blood, but they are ready to be adopted.
“These dogs, their health, has been screened. They have been tested twice, the low level of viral particles that they’re currently shedding is likely due to a vaccine interaction,” Labrada said. “They’ve been under quarantine for two weeks and have received two sets of vaccines. These are great dogs that need to go home.”
Photographs and profiles of pets currently available for adoption can be viewed at www.petharbor.com.
Animal Services has a history of distemper outbreak. There was also one in March of 20122. However, Animal Services has plans to move into a new shelter in December of 2013. The new building has appropriate quarantine areas to limit diseases, such as Canine Distemper, from spreading.