TACOMA, Washington– Since mid-May, more than 15 dogs at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County have exhibited symptoms of upper respiratory illness, as reported by shelter officials.
To prevent the spread of the illness, the shelter has implemented a quarantine for affected dogs and is diligently adhering to the guidelines provided by their veterinary team.
Lindsey Heaney, the Director of Communications and Outreach, stated that they are taking necessary measures to minimize the risk of exposure and ensure the well-being of the other dogs in their care.
“Our veterinary team checks everyday for symptoms to monitor that and treating early so they continuously check the animals that are here at the shelter and then as soon as there is symptoms they’re starting treatment right away,” said Heaney.
The dogs are experiencing mild symptoms associated with kennel cough to more severe symptoms linked to canine pneumovirus.
Symptoms include, but are not limited to, coughing, discharge from the eyes or nose, and abnormal breathing.
Shelter officials said there are many ways in which this could have gotten into the shelter.
“We have dogs from areas coming through our doors whether it be an animal control case, surrender, or if it’s an urgent stray or lost pet that’s coming in to us,” said Heaney.
The shelter is also facing limited space that is also impacting the respiratory illnesses and makes it difficult to control.
“Our facility is very outdated, so we only have about six quarantine spaces as well just due to our very limited and outdated facility which does cause a huge strain,” said Heaney.
In December 2022, the shelter implemented an appointment-based intake system in alignment with guidelines from veterinary experts and nationally recognized disease control best practices.
This system helps to lessen the high volume of animals at the shelter at one time.
In order to prevent the spread, the shelter is keeping a close eye on over 50 dogs that are currently available for adoption.