IACC reports cases of canine distemper, temporarily waives adoption fees

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 23, 2015)-- Indianapolis Animal Care and Control (IACC) is dealing with a serious canine disease.

Rescue groups who took in two dogs from IACC had to euthanize them after they were found to have canine distemper, and a third was euthanized because it showed symptoms. The illness is very contagious.

“Our IACC veterinarian noted distemper signs and symptoms in a few of the shelter’s dogs and immediately implemented a protocol to isolate the affected animals, while protecting the rest of the dog population in our kennels,” said Amanda Dehoney, Deputy Chief of Kennel Operations.

Around 100 dogs are in isolation.

The virus is spread through an infected dog’s cough or sneeze and by contact with an infected animal. The virus cannot be transmitted to humans.

Initial symptoms of distemper mimic an upper respiratory infection, but in later stages, the virus attacks the nervous system. While there is no cure for canine distemper, recovery is possible, depending on the strain of the virus and the strength of a dog’s immune system. Treatment is focused on alleviating symptoms and providing supportive care.

For Sherry Harlow, the issue is personal. She and her daughter adopted a dog, Sam, from IACC last month, at the same time the other sick dogs were in the shelter. Since then, Sam has gotten sicker and sicker, racking up thousands in bills.

Harlow is waiting on tests to confirm distemper, but believes Sam has the virus and will need to be euthanized.

"It’s been hard. It’s not so much about the money, it’s that no one could tell us what’s wrong with him until all this came about," Harlow said.

She's now warning anyone else who has adopted a dog recently to pay attention and be sure to take the dog to a vet for vaccinations. The distemper vaccine is routine and should be prescribed at all veterinarians.  IACC said it is normal protocol to give each dog the vaccine when it comes to the shelter.

IACC is not taking any new dogs from the public for now, and they are giving dogs away for free to try and get them out of the shelter. For those who need assistance to keep their dogs during this time, IACC may be able to provide dog food, vaccinations and supplies.

Contact them at (317) 327-1397 if you are interested in adopting. All prospective adopters must show proof that their current pets have been vaccinated.  Adopters with puppies under four months of age, with senior dogs or with dogs who have a compromised immune system should not consider adopting from IACC at this time.

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