MEDLEY (CBS4) – Officials at the Miami-Dade County Animal Shelter began the arduous task Monday of cleaning and disinfecting the shelter following an outbreak of a highly contagious canine virus.

Meanwhile, nearly all of the dogs at the Miami-Dade County Animal Shelter in Medley have been adopted.

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So, far there are fewer than 20 dogs and 20 cats and those remaining animals will be relocated into 40 by 40 foot air conditioned tent that has been set up in the shelter’s parking lot while the building is sanitized. 

The shelter has had a record number of adoptions since last week in response to the distemper outbreak. The shelter offered no-cost adoptions as well in order to find homes for the dogs. Those adoption fees, however, have since been reinstated.

“It’s a great feeling because everybody’s coming out of here alive. That shows that everybody cares,” said Gi Tacao, who runs Gigi’s Rescue in Hialeah. 

Last week, Miami-Dade Animal Services stopped taking in new dogs because of a Distemper outbreak at their shelter facility at 7401 NW 74th Street. Shelter managers decided to sanitize the shelter but to do that, all of the dogs would have to be removed; those not adopted out may be euthanized. 

Everyone adopting was told the dogs have been exposed to distemper, and if infected, symptoms might take three weeks to appear. Anyone taking home a dog is asked to keep it away from other dogs for at least three weeks. 

There is no cure for distemper, but some symptoms can be treated as they appear. 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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Animal Services is still taking in cats and kittens, which are not at risk of catching the disease. By Sunday evening, about 131 cats and kittens were adopted during the rush. 

Animal services has also temporarily ceased providing some services including the rabies/microchip clinic, intake of adult dogs and puppies by the public, stray-dog pickup by animal control officers, owner-surrendered pets, and spay and neuter surgery for current shelter dogs. 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.

In response to the Miami-Dade outbreak, Broward County Animal Care and the Humane Society of Broward County announced that they are open for business as usual, but urge residents to take proper precautions.

Independent rescuers said they are in need of foster homes for the dogs. Because of the distemper disease, the dogs have to be separated from any other dogs in the foster home.

Anyone interested in temporarily housing a dog can reach the independent rescuers at (305) 774-1184 or visit or

To schedule an appointment only with the Humane Society of Broward County, call (954) 266-6858.

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For more information on how to adopt;