Waukesha HAWS segregates dogs to contain distemper virus

Four dogs tested positive

The Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County has segregated the shelter's dog population in order to contain an incidence of distemper virus, the organization announced on Wednesday.  

HAWS says the virus was brought in by recent arrivals to the facility. There was word of possible exposure on the transport truck of dogs from a Humane Society in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Wisconsin in late April. 

There was a dog on this truck that tested positive for the distemper virus. Although this dog was never at HAWS in Waukesha, other dogs in the same truck were taken in by the facility. The dog is doing well and responding to treatment at another shelter in the region. 

HAWS has segregated its dogs as a precaution and were tested. Four dogs tested positive for the virus and are now undergoing treatment. 

The organization says while there is no cure for distemper, the virus can be treated successfully and the majority of dogs recover with no lasting effects.

Segregating the dogs includes keeping all puppies in foster care, doing off-site adoptions of puppies, and making sure all adult dogs remaining in the shelter have an updated distemper vaccination. HAWS staff veterinarian Dr. Kolleen Meyer says dogs under the age of 5 months are most susceptible to the distemper virus because of their immature immune systems.

“We have consulted with the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine specialists, and they have assured us the risk is extremely minimal to adult dogs, those dogs within the general public and shelter dogs that have been vaccinated," Meyer said. 

HAWS Executive Director Lynn Olenik says the virus can be found in public places and open water sources, and that raccoons are often carriers. “We will continue to test and treat dogs as necessary. We have been assured by shelter medicine specialists that those adult dogs that are non-symptomatic are able to be adopted safely,” he continues. 

For further information on the distemper virus, click here. 

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