The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to build a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness. For more than 128 years, WHS has been saving the lives of animals in need. We offer adoption services that place 9,000 animals in new homes annually, veterinary services that save thousands of lives, educational programs that instill respect for animals, behavior services to assist guardians and a myriad of other initiatives that help end suffering for animals. We depend entirely on private donations to fund our programs and rely on volunteers in nearly every department. If you are interested in adopting, volunteering, enrolling in a class, taking a tour or making a donation, check out our comprehensive web site at wihumane.org. The adoptable animals' web pages are updated every 30 minutes!
Dog Adoptions Temporarily Suspended at Wisconsin Humane Society Due to Canine Distemper Case
MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) announced today that it will be temporarily suspending all dog adoptions at both the Milwaukee and Ozaukee Campuses after a puppy tested positive in Milwaukee for Canine Distemper. Cat and small animal adoptions will remain unaffected because the virus is not transmissible to cats or to the small animals available at the shelters. It is also not transmissible to humans.
"While this is an extremely rare incident, we can't be too careful when dealing with a virus as deadly as Canine Distemper,” said Anne Reed, executive director. “Aside from the puppy who tested positive for the virus, we have a few other suspicious cases, so we are erring on the side of caution by suspending all dog adoptions pending test results.”
Shelter veterinarians will be performing extensive testing to determine if any other dogs in the shelter have contracted the virus.
While the humane society doesn't expect the illness to affect recently adopted dogs, representatives are advising people to watch for signs that include runny nose, watery eyes, fever and lethargy, neurological symptoms like twitching, and to contact their vet and WHS if their dog does display those signs.
The humane societies have requested that anybody interested in surrendering a dog hold off a few days, or call to make an appointment.
What is canine distemper?
Canine Distemper is a very serious and often fatal viral illness that affects dogs and other members of the Canidae family. The illness can strike a dog at any age. But young, unvaccinated dogs and puppies are most susceptible to Canine Distemper. The virus is found in bodily secretions and spread via inhalation. Once inhaled, the virus can move to the lymph nodes and then to the blood, spreading to the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital and central nervous systems.
Canine Distemper cannot be cured, but it can be easily prevented. Puppies usually receive their first vaccination against the distemper virus at the age of about 6 weeks. The second vaccination is typically given a month later, or as recommended by a veterinarian. The Canine Distemper vaccine is recognized as one of the most effective vaccines and can offer protection within hours. The Wisconsin Humane Society vaccinates every shelter dog in its care and urges animal guardians to make sure their animals are up-to-date on vaccinations.
While symptoms vary from dog to dog, runny nose, watery eyes, fever and lethargy, neurological symptoms like twitching, callusing of nose/foot pads, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures can often be signs of distemper. The eye discharge, which can be mistaken for a simple cold, is often the first sign of a potential problem.
How is it transmitted?
The Distemper Virus is transmitted by coming in contact directly with an infected dog, or indirectly with its saliva or urine. The distemper virus can also spread through the air. Even the most stringent sanitation protocols cannot eliminate the risk at any shelter. Canine Distemper virus has an incubation period in which symptoms are not always recognizable upon intake.