HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's animal adoption center is temporarily closing public dog intake appointments for the next few weeks after an animal tested positive for distemper, according to BARC Animal Shelter.
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BARC made the announcement Monday evening. Shelter officials said in a news release that although public intake is temporarily suspended, it remains open for all other services.
"Throughout this period, BARC will continue to accept sick, injured, or fading animals and Animal Enforcement Officers will continue to respond to calls for service at this time. Cat intake appointments will also continue to be available. BARC will reschedule existing intake appointments once all animals under observation receive negative test results for distemper," the shelter said in a news release.
BARC will remain open for the following services:
- Animal control and bite case investigations
- Intake of cats, as well as sick, injured, or fading animals
- Drive-through clinic assistance for foster animals
- Heartworm treatment appointments for all pets
- Regular cat adoptions
- Adoption of dogs categorized as low risk
- Return to owner services, following proper sanitation protocols in place
On Thursday, a BARC veterinarian advised medical staff to euthanize a dog who showed signs of distemper to prevent spreading the virus to other animals, according to shelter officials.
The shelter reportedly received a positive distemper test result days later for the dog.
Dogs who were at high risk for exposure were immediately isolated as BARC followed its distemper protocols, including carefully monitoring healthy but exposed animals for future symptoms, ensuring that no animals are placed into the community until they are without symptoms or past the incubation period, conducting a deep cleaning of shelter to reduce further contamination.
The shelter said areas that were impacted by these protocols are inaccessible to the public and "are not in proximity to public adoption areas."
All rescue, foster, and volunteer partners were notified of the distemper case.
"I commend the fast actions of our team at BARC in identifying the symptomatic dog and swiftly implementing their infectious disease protocols. While intake appointments are closed, all other services remain available, so I continue to encourage existing and new collaborations with our partners and the public," Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "Our staff will closely monitor the animals under our care and any that come into the shelter at this time. We urge Houstonians to please have their pets vaccinated to prevent the possible spread of illness among other pets in the community."
In part of a news release, BARC Animal Shelter warned animal owners of the symptoms of distemper:
Distemper is an ever-present concern in communities with large populations of stray animals and affects certain mammals, excluding humans and cats. Distemper symptoms may include thick nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing, and, in severe cases, may affect the neurological system, causing seizures, tremors, and death. Individuals who have adopted dogs from BARC that show potential symptoms are encouraged to contact the shelter for free medical treatment. BARC will also refund adoption fees and accept returned animals from those who are unable or unwilling to care for potentially sick animals. BARC urges pet owners to stay up-to-date on all pet vaccinations, which is the best way to prevent canine distemper. The canine distemper vaccine is included in a combination vaccine (sometimes abbreviated DAPP, DA2PP, or similarly) that also protects dogs against some other common canine viruses.
BARC remains open for adoptions from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. every Tuesday through Sunday at 3300 Carr St.
If you would like to get involved in helping the life of a shelter pet, whether through fostering, volunteering, or donating, visit BARC Animal Shelter's website to learn more. You can also learn more about getting your pet vaccinated at BARC's wellness center on their website.