Respiratory Disease Outbreak at Memphis Animal Services

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Tomorrow's "Yappy Hour" adoption event at Memphis Animal Services won't be very yappy. Only cats will be adopted out at the discounted $10 price between 4 and 7 p.m.

The weekly event typically features dogs adoptions for $10 as well. But the dog population is at risk for developing pneumovirus, a contagious acute respiratory disease. Seventeen shelter dogs have already been euthanized after being diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms have not yet manifested in the rest of the shelter's dog population, but Public Services and Neighborhoods director Janet Hooks said the shelter vet is monitoring and observing them to contain any more outbreaks. Symptoms include coughing and a runny nose.

Dogs that have not shown symptoms will still be available for adoption, but Hooks said adopters will be required to speak with the shelter's vet to ensure they're making a decision based on all the information they have about the disease. Shelter staff is also working to remove dogs from the shelter through its Pet Placement Partners.

"We've sent an email to all registered Pet Placement Partners soliciting them to rescue as many dogs as they can," Hooks said.

Though the origin of the disease is unknown, Hooks said such an outbreak would be far less likely in the new shelter facility on Appling Cove. That shelter, which should be ready to occupy by mid-November, has isolation areas for sick animals and a better ventilation system to prevent the spread of disease. Hooks said all 17 dogs that contracted the disease so far were vaccinated.

"It appears that the vaccine doesn't prevent the animal from contracting this," Hooks said.

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