Help us save the dogs exposed to Canine Distemper
UPDATE 9/12/17: Canine Distemper Update Sept 12, 2017...
Your help is still very much needed as we continue to care for, test and clear dogs who were infected and/or exposed to the canine distemper virus. We are still working with the University of Wisconsin Madison Veterinary School; they are testing samples we send and guiding us along to getting our dogs ALL safe and cleared.
Currently we have 51 dogs and puppies safe and completely cleared waiting for homes and need to find families of rescues for them as we are very full!
We have 22 dogs and puppies who are negative but have low titers; these dogs are available for adoption but adopters will need to keep them away from things that could put them at risk until they are more fully vaccinated and their immune status improves.
We have 39 dogs still quarantined as positive who are receiving supportive care and any treatments as directed by our veterinarians. We made a commitment to keep and treat all of our dogs, but this is coming at a tremendous cost; it costs our shelter an average of $50 per week per dog to care for healthy dog, and these dogs require much more than that. These dogs have been with us 4-8 weeks; if you average that our to just six week the cost of care for THIS GROUP ALONE is now at $11,700. That's only THIS group of 39!
We have 11 dogs who have one negative test and need one more test to be completely cleared.
12 of the more recent arrivals still have tests out and pending.
We have 34 brand new dogs (from animal control) who are healthy and segregated and will soon be available for adoption as testing of new incoming dogs has now been discontinued.
Many shelters faced with an outbreak choose to euthanize all the dogs; we could never have taken that route. To us, every life matters...every life is worth saving. Even $10 can be a tremendous help!
After some dogs became ill with what looked like a bad strain of kennel cough, JHS submitted samples for testing and were shocked and saddened to learn we have Canine Distemper at our shelter. This was likely brought in by a dog that was shedding the virus but not showing any obvious symptoms. Many shelters choose to euthanize all dogs in an attempt to get the shelter "clean" again, but we refuse to sacrifice lives for an "easy" solution. Not only is the course we are taking a very mentally and physically exhausting one for staff and medical personnel, its a very EXPENSIVE one. Saving dogs is what we are determined to do, but it comes with a high cost. We are asking for your help; we are asking for donations to help us save lives! Donate as little as $10 or as much as you are bale by selecting the "number" of $10 donations you would like to make. All money raised will be used to help us care for dogs through our period of crisis.
We are working with the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Veterinary Medicine along with UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; both universities have experience with distemper outbreaks in Shelters and have offered to guide us through our crisis. Below is the information about our ongoing situation.
Joplin Humane Society will be temporarily not accepting new dogs or puppies at the shelter in light of the discovery of Canine Distemper Virus in several dogs at the shelter. Shelter staff have already sent in tests on the majority of the dogs in adoption areas; these tests came back with good antibody results indicating that these dogs should not develop distemper. Adoptions for dogs and puppies will be limited/restricted until tests come back that fully clear dogs and puppies. Those additional tests will be done next week which will enable us to completely clear dogs as “safe”.
- We are asking tonight for the public's support in helping us address several occurrences of the Canine Distemper Virus. We have been dealing with what appeared to be a severe strain of “kennel cough” for which initial tests came back inconclusive.
- This is a new and challenging situation for us.
- We have chosen a very aggressive response strategy and intend to come out of it with confidence and a stronger capacity to help our animals. When we first discovered the virus, we learned that many shelters choose to completely depopulate their shelters of dogs by euthanizing every dog.
- We have chosen instead to try to save as many of our dogs as possible, knowing that this may interrupt our regular operations for days, or even weeks.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
- We have been in consultation with veterinary experts at the UC-Davis Shelter Medicine Program, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, who have experience in managing Canine Distemper in shelters nationwide. We are so grateful to both these organizations for their expert assistance.
- We have performed two kinds of tests on all of our shelter dogs: blood titer levels and PCR swab tests. We can only get the test results once a week due to the time it takes in the lab to culture the samples. The shelter will continue to clear dogs for adoption on a weekly basis as soon as they have passed two Canine Distemper Virus tests. Those tests confirm a dog's resistance to the virus, and also that the dog is not spreading the virus.
- Many dogs are already “conditionally cleared” with good titers and can go home now. The only recommendation for these conditionally cleared dogs is that they not go home with puppies or immune compromised dogs. These conditionally cleared dogs will be cleared by next week after we get their PCR results.
- In the effort to contain the virus and prevent transmission, no surrenders are being admitted to our shelter and are being diverted to other area shelters and rescue groups. People looking to surrender a dog are being asked to hold off for a couple weeks, and if they cannot, contact us to learn about current options.
- We are not able to take any dog transfers from other shelters at this time.
- JHS will be contacting recent adopters informing them of the situation and the symptoms of Distemper. All dogs adopted from JHS have been vaccinated for Canine Distemper, but the vaccine is not immediately effective, so there is a very small risk of a dog contracting the virus during that time period.
WHAT IS CANINE DISTEMPER?
- Canine Distemper is a serious and sometimes fatal viral illness that affects dogs and other members of the Canidae family. The illness can strike a dog at any age, but young, unvaccinated dogs and puppies are most susceptible to Canine Distemper. The virus is found in bodily secretions and spread via inhalation. Once inhaled, the virus can move to the lymph nodes and then to the blood, spreading to the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital and central nervous systems.
- Canine Distemper cannot be cured, but it can be easily prevented. We ask that everyone who has a dog make sure their dogs are up-to-date on the Canine Distemper Vaccine. This virus entered our shelter from a dog in the community that carried it. So far, we have found that ALL the dogs who have tested positive for the virus were very likely never previously vaccinated.
- The Canine Distemper vaccine is recognized as one of the most effective vaccines and can offer protection within hours. The Joplin Humane Society vaccinates every shelter dog in its care.
HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
- The Distemper Virus is transmitted by coming in contact directly with an infected dog, or indirectly with its saliva or urine. The distemper virus can also spread through the air. Even the most stringent sanitation protocols cannot eliminate the risk at any shelter. Canine Distemper virus has an incubation period in which symptoms are not always recognizable upon intake.
- The good news is that distemper does not live for months or years in the environment like Canine Parvovirus.
HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP?
- Please be patient if you are interested in adopting. We will be clearing dogs for adoption on a regular basis as soon as our veterinarians are confident in their health. Remember, we have dogs now who are conditionally cleared and should be 100% cleared by next week. Getting the healthy dogs out and opening up space is a critical part of part of us getting our shelter healthy again.
- We would appreciate the donation of dog toys and treats to keep the dogs who are being held for observation as comfortable and happy as possible.
- A special fund has been set up to help cover the cost of the continued tests and medical care the dogs are receiving. People can donate to that fund at www.joplinhumane.org
- In the effort to contain the virus and prevent transmission, no surrenders are being admitted to the shelter and are being diverted to other area shelters and rescue groups. People looking to surrender a dog are being asked to hold off for a couple weeks, and if they cannot, contact us at 417-623-3642 to learn about current options.