Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC) is currently going through what no shelter or rescue wants to go through. Unfortunately, multiple dogs at our East shelter location have tested positive for distemper, and several others are starting to show symptoms of illness. We fear we are on the cusp of a distemper outbreak.
Due to this terrible situation, we are closing our East shelter at 5pm Sunday for the foreseeable future while we test every single animal, about 300 dogs, at that location and determine the next best steps. Adoptions and transfers will be accommodated now through Sunday. All adopters and partners will be counseled on the recent increase in sick dogs and potential exposure to respiratory illness. It is important to note that this does not mean the dogs are distemper positive; they could have CIRDC, kennel cough, etc.
Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Dogs can be asymptomatic or show typical symptoms such as fever, lethargy, ocular and nasal discharge, and neurological ticks. Infected dogs can pass the virus to other dogs through coughs, sneezes, tears, saliva, urine, and feces.
While we do not know if dogs who are showing symptoms are positive for distemper at this moment, we are taking proactive steps to stop the spread of this highly contagious and deadly canine virus.
Leadership consulted with MCACC veterinarians and Midwestern University Shelter and Community Medicine Program faculty over the last two days. MWU faculty have been part of past infection mitigation strategies at MCACC for many years and provided strategy during similar circumstances in June 2019. Together, we have developed a proactive response plan to help limit the spread of distemper, which we are launching immediately. This includes testing with multiple vendors, including UC Davis, one of the nation’s leading Veterinary Schools.
As we address this situation, we could really use the community’s support.
- Until further notice, ALL adoption fees are waived at both shelter locations. If you are interested in a dog at our East shelter, you can “blind adopt” without a meet & greet but the dog may be viewed through the kennel. Potential adopters will be counseled to understand the risks of taking an animal on medication without a confirmed diagnosis.
- Sign up to volunteer. We will need all the extra support we can get to help with the increased capacity at our West shelter.
- Please support our New Hope Partners who are working diligently to care for many of the dogs pulled from our shelter.
Unfortunately, all unvaccinated dogs, regardless of age, are vulnerable to distemper—this is an issue facing many shelters throughout the country this year. Please do your part by making sure your pet at home is up to date on vaccinations.
We want to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. We will provide updates on this situation in the coming days and weeks.