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Virus forces Tacoma Humane Society to limit dog intake

The animal shelter is working to stop the spread of a potentially deadly virus in its dog population.

TACOMA, Wash. — The Humane Society in Tacoma is limiting accepting any more dogs to try and stop the spread of a virus at the shelter.

The animal shelter says that it’s trying to stop the spread of the pneumovirus, an upper respiratory disease with symptoms that include fever, rapid breathing, and nasal discharge.

“This could be fatal to your pet if unchecked,” said Veterinary Services Manager Joseph Monjes. “If it goes unchecked and it’s not treated, the longer you go, the sicker you get. And the sicker you get, the harder it becomes to treat.”

The shelter’s last count showed that 26 dogs both at the shelter and in foster care are being monitored. Eighteen of them are currently on active pneumonia treatment at various stages, and eight are being monitored because of similar symptoms.  

Now Monjes says the shelter can’t take in any more dogs unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“Right now, we’ve been kind of diverting traffic because we don’t want healthy animals coming in here getting sick,” he said.

Monjes says the shelter is currently trying to find ways to keep the virus from spreading, from setting up quarantine areas to looking at how the air flows in the building.

"We’re really trying to nail down the aerosolized aspect of it, like, how do we quarantine in all sense of the word?” Monjes said.

But Monjes says it can be a challenge to stop the spread with limited resources, which is why it’s critical to treat the dogs as soon as possible because there isn’t anything available at the moment to fight the virus itself.

“We’re really treating it symptomatically by throwing antibiotics at it, that’s all we’ve essentially come up with,” Monjes said. “There’s no vaccine, there’s no antiviral medication that you can give to promote protection.”

Monjes advised that if you notice your dog is showing symptoms like coughing or notice discharge coming out from its eyes and nose, take your dog to your local veterinarian as soon as possible.

The Humane Society is still allowing dogs to be adopted but clarifies that the dogs that are adopted are cleared and healthy before they’re given away.


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