Lubbock Animal Shelter warns about rise in distemper cases

Lubbock Animal Shelter warns about rise in distemper cases
Source: KCBD File Photo

The Lubbock Animal Shelter is warning about a rise in cases of Canine Distemper Virus in the area.

"Distemper is a very serious contagious disease that is deadly if not treated and may be deadly even if treated."

City officials released this statement on Monday:

Dear Friends,

Our City animal shelter has recently undergone many changes. One of which is our common goal of increasing our total live release rate, while preserving high quality of life. We strive to reach this goal, while being mindful of our responsibility to keeping our community safe.

One challenge that we face every day is the high numbers of sick animals that come into the shelter. One such illness that is particularly concerning is Canine Distemper Virus. Distemper is a very serious contagious disease that is deadly if not treated and may be deadly even if treated. Symptoms of distemper do not appear immediately, may first mimic kennel cough, and later show up as vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures and, finally, death. The only way to fight distemper is through prevention: early and continuous vaccination throughout the pet's life.

We are particularly concerned that we are seeing a rise in distemper in both our surrounding community as well as in dogs rehomed through the shelter. Because this illness is so dangerous, we need to act with urgency. I want to share with you the steps that are already in place to address with this very serious disease:

Fighting Illness within the Shelter

1. Sanitation: A thorough review of sanitation practices within the shelter revealed several procedures that may be improved. Specifically, we are changing our disinfectant agents to Rescue and Wysiwash, which have proven track records in eliminating distemper and parvovirus (another deadly contagious disease that mainly affects puppies).

2. Medical care: Every pet that comes into the shelter is now vaccinated, dewormed, treated for fleas and ticks, and provided medical care if needed. Any pet that displays signs of illness is immediately isolated and treated by veterinary professionals either within the shelter or transported to a veterinary clinic.

3. Renovations: Crucial renovations have already begun at the animal shelter. We have just finished installing new ventilation systems, which will greatly improve air quality and reduce the transmission of pathogens. In 2 weeks' time, we are set to begin a very important addition to the facility – adding epoxy to the concrete floors of the kennels. Because unsealed concrete is porous, it harbors germs that cannot easily be washed away. This renovation will allow us to finally be able to eradicate pathogens during daily cleaning.

4. Expert outside consultation: We are in the process of obtaining an outside in-depth consultation from world-expert, Dr. Ellen Jefferson. Dr. Jefferson and her team will provide a lengthy on-site evaluation and staff training in order to overcome any remaining deficiencies within the shelter. With their help, we will solve the current and prevent any future distemper outbreaks.

Even with all of the steps that we are taking within the Lubbock Animal Shelter, we need the help of citizens in order to overcome this dangerous disease. We need your help in vaccinating every pet in our community. If you have not yet done so, please visit your veterinarian as soon as you can and ask for the distemper vaccination for your dog. If you have newborn puppies, it is especially crucial that they are vaccinated prior to being rehomed. We recognize that not every citizen has funds to provide life-saving vaccinations for their pets. Please stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming community campaign, Furry Five Hundred, to provide free microchips and vaccinations to 500+ pets in need. This initiative will be the largest to date in the city of Lubbock and is set to occur on June 9th of this year. The Lubbock Animal Shelter also has support for the spay and neuter of pets in low-income homes; please visit or call the Lubbock Animal Shelter for more information.

We are all in this fight together and I hope that we will see an end to distemper in our community in the near future.

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