Miami animal shelter halts dog adoptions, euthanizes 18 after virus outbreak

Miami HeraldJanuary 8, 2012 

MIAMI — Miami-Dade’s animal shelter put adoptions and drop-offs of dogs on hold Saturday after discovering a virus outbreak in the pound that left workers with no choice but to euthanize 18 dogs.

Only dogs are affected. People can continue to drop off and adopt cats.

It’s the first outbreak in 10 months, said the shelter’s Kathleen Labrada, who added that the pound’s remaining so-far healthy 211 dogs would be monitored over the next two weeks for potential exposure to the virus, distemper.

She added that the county was left with no choice but to put down 18 dogs — from puppies to adults.

“There is no cure for distemper,” she said of the airborne virus that attacks a dog’s nervous system. “The dogs end up having seizures; it’s terrible.”

Animal services workers were patrolling the floors looking for more dogs with symptoms of the virus. At the same time, they were sending samples to the labs to identify dogs with a high enough antibody level, or sufficient immunity to the disease, to be made eligible for adoption sometime next week.

“During this time, they will be closely monitored for symptoms of disease and will receive prophylactic antibiotic treatment for secondary bacterial infections,” a shelter statement said.

Meantime, it said, most dog related services were being suspended, including the rabies and microchip clinic and spay and neuter surgeries.

Services to cats continued unaffected, and dog owners can continue to pay citations and purchase licenses for vaccinated dogs during regular work hours.

Miami-Dade County’s Animal Services takes in more than 36,000 pets each year with the goal of reuniting lost pets with their owners and finding homes for as many animals as possible.

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