by Photo courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society

The San Diego Humane Society recently reported an increase in Canine Respiratory Disease symptoms among dogs in shelter care, impacting their ability to accept owner-surrendered dogs until further notice. 

Shelter officials say all affected dogs are under quarantine per appropriate disease management protocols at San Diego, El Cajon, Escondido, and Oceanside. The temporary restrictions will hold except in the case of an emergency threatening the pet's life. 

“Canine pneumovirus is a relatively new virus and causes symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. While most affected animals experience minor cold-like symptoms, a small number of dogs may develop pneumonia,” said Dr. Zarah Hedge, Chief Medical Officer and VP of Shelter Medicine for San Diego Humane Society.

Hedge said that the virus spreads through kennels because of the high number of dogs in one location.

“In a shelter setting, it’s critical that we quarantine sick dogs for 14 days so they can rest, recover, and we can prevent the spread of the virus to the rest of the shelter population or the community. To preserve space, we are asking for the public’s support to limit the number of dogs being brought to our shelters,” Hedge said.

Several alternatives are recommended by the agency to help community members who are unable to keep their dogs, such as the tools and resources offered on the agency’s website. SDHS officials say rehoming resources, can help owners find new homes for pets online, rather than taking them to a shelter.  

 A Community Pet Pantry is also available which offers free pet food and supplies to pet owners in need. Housing and eviction resources are also available to help pet owners find housing in San Diego County. Lastly, the agency offers behavior and training tools and services.

“This is a challenging situation occurring during the busiest time of the year. We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible, and we sincerely appreciate our community’s understanding and support. This relatively new virus is already present in the community. Most dogs will develop only mild symptoms but if you notice cold-like symptoms in your dog at home, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment,” San Diego Humane Society President and CEO Gary Weitzman said. 

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