Dog Adoptions in Houston Postponed Due to Distemper Outbreak

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Houston, Texas charity Best Friends has been using NRG Arena to house animals displaced during Hurricane Harvey. Sadly, ABC 13 reports that out of the 400 dogs at the makeshift shelter, “…120 are suspected to have distemper. Another 20 are confirmed to have the virus.”

According to the American Kennel Club, canine distemper is a very serious illness that is preventable if dogs are caught up with their vaccinations. “Veterinarians consider the distemper vaccine to be a core vaccination, along with the parvovirus, canine adenovirus, and rabies vaccines,” they explain. But in the case of an emergency situation like Harvey, many stressed dogs are brought together who are not up to date with vaccines, and the airborne disease can easily spread.

The virus takes hold in two stages. In stage one, dogs can exhibit fever, discharge from the nose and eyes and vomiting and diarrhea. In the second stage, they might show neurological problems like seizures, head tilting, and paralysis. Distemper can lead to death and long-term problems.

Tragically, there’s no cure, and the recovery of the animal will depend on the strength of its immune system. For now, Best Friends has delayed their mass adoption planned for October 14 to focus on the recovery of these dogs.