HOUSTON — An apparent distemper outbreak has forced BARC to close to the public indefinitely.
The shelter said it will reopen for select services to address an unusually high presence of upper respiratory illness.
BARC confirmed six positive distemper cases and will remain closed to allow for additional testing of dogs considered high exposure to distemper.
Distemper attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs, according to the American Veterinarian Medical Association. The first symptoms are usually a discharge from the eyes, then fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting,” the AVMA says.
BARC will reopen for all services if test results are confirmed negative.
“This isn’t just a local issue; many states and animal shelters are currently encountering distemper outbreaks,” said BARC Shelter Director Greg Damianoff. “We urge Houstonians to please have their pets vaccinated to prevent the possible spread of illness among other pets in the community.”
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The shelter says the following safety protocols are in place:
- Identify, isolate, and treat infected animals
- Carefully monitor healthy but exposed animals for future symptoms
- Ensure that no animals are placed into the community until they are without symptoms or past the incubation period
- Conduct a deep cleaning of shelter to reduce further contamination
Effective immediately, BARC will remain open for the following services:
- Animal control and bite case investigations
- Intake of sick, injured, or fading animals
- Drive-through clinic assistance for foster animals
- Heartworm treatment appointments for all pets scheduled prior to July 4th closure
- Cat intake and adoptions. Potential adopters will only be allowed in the Don Sanders Cattery located at the BARC Adoption Center
- Adoption of dogs categorized as low risk
- Return to owner services, following proper sanitation protocols in place
BARC will remain closed for the following services:
- Dog intake
- Dog adoptions, except for dogs categorized as low risk
- BARC wellness clinic
- BARC spay/neuter clinic for dogs
BARC said it will contact partners and customers to reschedule affected appointments.
Anyone who has adopted dogs from BARC that show potential symptoms are encouraged to contact the shelter for free medical treatment. BARC will also refund adoptions fees and accept returned animals from those who are unable or unwilling to care for them.
How you can help
BARC needs foster and adoptive homes for dogs at the shelter categorized as low risk. Low-risk dogs are those who have received both doses of the distemper vaccination prior to BARCs intake of the infected animals.
Dogs fostered or adopted must be monitored and isolated from other pets in the home for approximately two weeks. If you're interested in fostering, please visit the BARC Foster wesbite here. If you're interested in adopting, click here.
Donations are also needed and welcomed, as the shelter says supplies are running low. BARC will accept treat dispensing toys like KONGs, rawhides, lick-mats and spray cheese.
Donations may be dropped off seven days a week through the back entrance at BARC, located at 2700 Evella Street. You can also donate items through the BARC Amazon Wish List and have items shipped directly to BARC.