OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – At least four OKC metro animal shelters have shut down because of illness.  Veterinarians report hundreds of dogs have gotten sick, and some have even died.

The problem is so serious that Oklahoma City Animal Welfare closed its doors for the first time ever last week.

They report that about 140 dogs have caught an upper respiratory infection, testing positive for strep zoo and two different strands of canine flu. They added that five dogs have died to date from the infections.

Midwest City Animal Welfare, City of Yukon Animal Control Facility, and City of El Reno Animal Control have also made announcements of closure amidst this outbreak.

Meanwhile, Neel Veterinary Hospital is explaining on social media that the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms could be as long as a month.

“This means that you should refrain from exposing your dogs to other dogs for at least 1 month in a group setting,” the hospital posted. “Don’t take them to the dog park. Don’t take them to pet stores. Don’t take them to training classes. You will not know where those other dogs have been or what they are carrying, even if they aren’t actively showing symptoms. These diseases can turn fatal quickly. Pet owners need to be vigilant and do their part to stop the spread.”

Area animal shelters are agreeing with this advice, with some experts even saying to be cautious when walking your dog outside.

“We’ve been recommending the lot of people to, for about 28 days, keep your dog away from other dogs and really kind of do like we did during COVID and kind of home quarantine your dog for a little while here,” said Jon Gary of Oklahoma City Animal Welfare.
Samantha Phillips of Moore Animal Welfare weighed in saying, “I would limit going to places where other dogs from the public are there. I hate to say avoid dog parks or certain businesses, but people should just be a little more cautious over the next week or two.”

The shelter in Moore has stopped accepting strays or surrenders brought in from the public for the time being.