DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — After confirming 15 cases of Canine distemper virus, Dallas Animal Services (DAS) is limiting its intake of dogs to emergency cases only.
Non-emergent owner surrender requests will be connected to the Pet Support Hotline for other rehoming options, officials said. Residents can access the hotline by calling 311.
Since the case confirmations, DAS staff has consulted with Dr. Cynda Crawford, an expert in shelter canine upper respiratory illness, and are “currently working to implement her recommendations.”
Officials said DAS has begun quarantining all dogs showing possible symptoms, implementing more extensive cleaning protocols, increasing personal protective equipment use and expanding its adopter education regarding distemper and other common canine illnesses.
“The public needs to understand that this is not a dirty shelter problem,” Crawford said. “Distemper can enter shelters like Dallas Animal Services that follow healthcare best practices, and they need community support and understanding to assist them as they work to resolve the situation.”
Canine distemper virus is a contagious viral infection that can cause respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, ocular and central nervous system symptoms in dogs that are unvaccinated or have weakened immune systems. Officials said distemper can be fatal, and those that survive could have lasting neurological impacts.
“The health of the animals in our shelter and North Texas is a top priority for DAS,” said MeLissa Webber, Interim Director of DAS. “While the suspected number of distemper cases at DAS is relatively low – representing only 2% of our dog population – we are taking this threat very seriously.”
Officials said DAS is housing nearly 350 adoptable dogs that have not displayed any signs of illness and are in urgent need of homes.
“We want to be transparent, but we also do not want to…