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  • Dog fosters needed to help PACC fight canine-related illness

    May 23, 2018 | Read More News
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    animal carePima Animal Care Center needs community members willing to foster its adult dogs for a few weeks while staff work on eradicating a shelter-related dog illness that can be deadly if not quickly treated. PACC staff have placed all canines on preventative treatment and taken additional steps to prevent the spread of this disease throughout the shelter.

    Shelter staff discovered the presence of this canine disease on May 18 following the death of one of its dogs, which prior to death showed no signs of infection. Test and necropsy confirmed the dog tested positive for Streptococcus equi zooepidemicus (Strep zoo), a highly contagious disease among dogs in shelter settings. [Strep Zoo FAQs]

    The Strep zoo bacterium is normally found in horses/cattle, pigs, and guinea pigs, where it doesn’t typically cause disease. When this bacterium infects dogs, however, it can cause severe and potentially fatal pneumonia. Signs of infection can include fever, depression, cough, discharge from the nose and blood coming from the animal’s mouth.

    The deceased dog was one of six canines brought in a week prior from a rural area with exposure to a donkey. To prevent the spread of Step zoo in the shelter, PACC officials have placed the remaining five dogs in foster homes with no other pets and isolated a dog who was housed near the deceased dog and has shown possible symptoms of Strep zoo. In addition, all healthy-appearing dogs have received and will continue to receive prophylactic antibiotic treatment to eliminate the infectious organisms. Additionally, all treated dogs will undergo a 14-day period of observation and testing to ensure they are not contagious or ill. 

    To prevent the spread of this illness, PACC has also started recruiting foster parents who can provide temporary housing to incoming adult dogs and those who have completed antibiotic treatment. Currently, PACC needs two-week foster commitments to allow staff to create extra room at the shelter and contain the disease. Community members interested in fostering an adult dog should email PACC’s foster coordinators at  

    The shelter will continue adoptions as usual. In fact, from May 25-28, PACC will hold a Memorial Day Madness Sale offering waived adoption fees on all pets, including puppies and kittens. Adopters who select a dog that’s still on medication will receive the supplies needed to continue treatment at home. 

    Strep zoo is most commonly seen in animal shelters were animal density is high. Currently, PACC has about 350 dogs in its care and dealing with crowded conditions. Because there’s no vaccine and few warning signs, this disease could spread quickly if left untreated.

    PACC is working in consultation with national experts in infection shelter disease and has created a treatment and prevention plan. 

    “This disease shows up from the community periodically, and like other infectious illnesses, we treat is as especially critical once the general population is exposed,” said PACC Director Kristen Auerbach. “We are taking every measure to ensure that our population remains healthy while they wait for their permanent homes.” 

    As an open-admission shelter, PACC will always be susceptible to the occasional infectious disease. However, its ability to fight disease outbreaks like the current one will improve once Phase 2 of construction is complete and the shelter can operate with its full range of amenities. The second half of PACC’s new animal care campus is slated for completion this summer. 

    Pet owners concerned about the health of their pet, should contact their veterinarian to make sure their pets’ vaccinations are up to date. 

    PACC is being assisted by the Humane Society of Southern Arizona who is accepting some dog surrenders deferred from PACC in order to reduce the number of healthy dogs entering the shelter.