Dog flu has been spreading across the country, but in North Carolina, it’s forced a shelter to close for at least 35 days.
Shelter closing due to dog flu outbreak
According to WRAL, three dogs recently died at Wake County Animal Center due to canine influenza. Those deaths prompted the shelter to cease operations temporarily as of Oct. 6. Between the shelter and foster care, Wake County Animal Center is currently caring for 435 animals.
“We cannot take animals in this facility while we’re on lockdown,” said Jennifer Federico, DVM, the director of Wake County Animal Center.
Cases of canine influence are on the rise in the state. Boarding and doggy daycare facilities are common places where the sickness spreads. Because dog flu is transmitted through respiratory droplets, like when dogs sneeze or cough, animals can pass it quickly between each another.
“As our community knows all too well, the number of pets coming to us has been pushing our shelter past capacity for well over a year – and unfortunately, it’s that situation – tons of dogs living together in one space – that’s the perfect breeding ground for viruses like this,” Wake County Commissioner Cheryl Stallings said.
She continued: “Animal Center staff are working overtime trying to quarantine, treat and care for these pets – but to do it most effectively, we need to temporarily close. It’s not a decision we’re taking lightly.”
The dangers of canine influenza
Since Sept. 15, around 61 dogs at Wake County Animal Center have come down with upper respiratory infections.
“Unfortunately, this has spread rapidly. a lot of dogs are not immune to it,” Federico, said. “It’s not something a lot of people vaccinate for.”
Common signs of dog flu are nasal discharge and coughing. As the illness progresses, dogs may experience lethargy, fever, and loss of appetite.
Recovery takes two to three weeks. However, secondary infections during that time period can spiral into pneumonia or even death.
Staff at Wake County Animal Center will spend the next month or so treating and caring for ill animals in quarantine. The shelter is pausing adoptions and is not accepting surrenders of pets during this time.