Humane Society suspends dog adoptions and intake to test for distemper

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A case of canine distemper in a dog that had recently been adopted from the Western PA Humane Society has led the shelter to temporarily suspend bringing in any new dogs or setting up dog adoptions.

The dog came in as a stray May 28 to the kennel at 1101 Western Ave., North Side. She was adopted shortly afterward, then brought back to the shelter and symptoms of distemper were noticed. These can include fever, loss of appetite, listlessness, and a watery discharge from the eyes and nose.

Dogs are medically tested at the Humane Society before they are available to be adopted, according to spokeswoman Kristen Lane.

"We did not give the dog a specific test for distemper because she was not showing any signs of distemper. ... When the new owner brought her back in, we noticed a runny nose,“ so the shelter veterinarian ordered the test. There is a six- to nine-day period after exposure before symptoms appear.

Ms. Lane said the Humane Society is now evaluating and testing all dogs now at the shelter. “That’s why we’re putting a hold on any adoptions, at least until Tuesday.”

People are being directed to take animals to the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania, 6620 Hamilton Ave., Homewood. “They have the city contract for all stray dogs ... all strays legally need to be taken there,” Ms. Lane said.

She said many people do not realize how distemper is preventable with a $19 DHPP vaccine -- which helps to prevent distemper, hepatitis, parvo and parainfluenza. Non-immunized puppies and adolescent dogs are highly vulnerable, she said.

"This is one of those teachable moments ... get your dog vaccinated,“ she said.

To get more information about the Human Society adoption/intake suspension, call 412-321-4625 or see the website: Cat and small animal adoptions and intake, and the appointment-only Wellness Clinic at the shelter, are operating as normal.

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