Shelter urges adoptions amid overcrowding and rapid spread of disease
By Lina Fisher, 6:30AM, Fri. Aug. 25, 2023
Austin Animal Center is holding its biggest adoption event of the year, Clear the Shelters, this Saturday, August 26, from 11am-7pm.
All adoption fees are waived for the day, and this particular event is more important than ever: AAC has been experiencing extreme overcrowding that has exacerbated the spread of a life-threatening disease for dogs, canine distemper. “This year in particular we’re relying on the event to be successful in order to help with our distemper outbreak,” said AAC Communications Manager Kelsey Cler in a press release.
Over the past month, AAC received 39 positive cases of 94 dogs tested for canine distemper, which affects unvaccinated puppies that have just entered the shelter. “Dogs testing positive are generally under a year old and have only been in the shelter for a few weeks, meaning they didn’t have time to build up appropriate vaccination immunity before being exposed,” said AAC’s head veterinarian Dr. Debbie Elliott. “We are seeing a range of symptoms, from dogs that aren’t showing any signs to dogs developing seizures. We have been working with experts at the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program as well as our partners at Austin Pets Alive! to provide treatment and slow the spread of disease through the shelter.”
Canine distemper spreads through respiratory droplets and close contact with infected animals, which increases if animals can’t be isolated due to overcrowding. “It is vital that dog owners make sure their dogs are completely vaccinated,” Dr. Elliott said. But in order to curb the spread of the disease now, “getting healthy dogs out allows us to create space to isolate sick animals and protect incoming vulnerable dogs.”
“If you’ve been thinking about adopting, consider this your sign!” said Cler. “You will literally be a lifesaver.”
You can preview adoptable animals online before the event here.
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