OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — The Oklahoma City Animal Shelter has closed its doors for a second time in a matter of weeks due to an outbreak of upper respiratory infection, spreading throughout the facility.
Jon Gary, OKC Animal Welfare Superintendent, told News 4 Saturday samples from the infected dogs were sent off for testing to check for canine flu but the symptoms are very similar.
“Our vets suspect it (canine flu) due to how quickly it’s being spread,” said Gary.
He said vets were concerned when they saw several dogs with coughing and runny nose on Thursday. That was when the shelter began closely monitoring the animals. Friday 40 dogs showed signs of an upper respiratory infection. An additional 60 more were sick on Saturday. A total of 130 dogs had symptoms, which is more than one-fourth the shelter’s population.
“We could be shut down for around 21 days,” said Gary. “The standard is 21 says because of the incubation and the shedding period for the virus.”
The Animal Shelter shut down for the first time March 29. It reopened more than a month later, on May 12. Five dogs died due to the infection but Gary said all of those dogs also had strep zoo, which is a respiratory disease that could lead to pneumonia.
“We knew when we decided to reopen it was still in our community and there was a good possibility this could happen,” said Gary. “But this time it happened very suddenly.”
The shelter said it would still take in dogs that pose a danger or dogs that are sick and injured but has asked residents to keep stray dogs until they can safely take in more animals.
“The last time we asked our community to step up and house stray animals they did that,” said Gary. “When we reopened, we received 123 animals the first day. That was a little bit overwhelming as well. It is very difficult but it’s so important for the health of the animals that we do that.”
Gary also said if you are concerned about a dog’s health you received from the shelter to keep the animal inside for at least two weeks, away from dog parks and pet stores, and visit your vet.
Residents looking for lost pets can click here. Pets that are at the Shelter can be reclaimed by their owners.