An increase in dogs and puppies coming in with the fatal distemper virus has caused the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to cease accepting canines for the next week while the shelter is being cleaned and sanitized.
The shelter has had several confirmed cases of distemper, including litters of puppies, in the last three weeks, said Teresa Truelsen, the shelter’s marketing director.
The shelter will begin accepting dogs again on June 23. In the meantime, people should drop off canines at the Pima Animal Care Center.
There is no medication for the highly contagious virus that affects eye membranes and respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Dogs brought in with the virus have been euthanized, Truelsen said.
The shelter is testing its dogs and is sending them to other locations, including foster-care homes, while the facilities are undergoing a deep cleaning to prevent the spread of the virus.
The virus can be prevented through proper vaccination, Truelsen said.
Last week, 200 dogs were vaccinated against distemper at a mobile clinic organized by the Humane Society in response to the recent distemper cases, Truelsen said.
The shelter hopes to offer more free vaccines at a mobile clinic and is seeking veterinarians to volunteer.