Miami distemper outbreak affects local shelters

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An outbreak of distemper in a Miami-Dade animal shelter is having far reaching effects. Now, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is closing its after hours pet drop box, to prevent a similar outbreak, even as rescue organizations bring in more animals.

The after-effects of last week's emergency shutdown of an Animal Control facility in Medley are spreading further north.

"Miami-Dade is dealing with a distemper outbreak.

"A lot of animals have made their way up into Palm Beach County," said Capt. David Walesky, with Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the disease in any of the rescued animals, Animal Care and Control prefers to err, on the side of caution.

"A lot of the rescues have brought animals up here, and we've asked them to keep the dogs confined for about 30 days. So we've closed night drop," said Walesky.

With the night drop closed, more people will be forced to drop off during the day, and Animal Care and Control officers can get more of a background on where the dog has been, hopefully preventing the spread of disease here in Palm Beach County.

"When we take a dog out of night drop, it could look like a perfectly healthy dog, but it could be shedding the virus. This way, we kind of know what's coming in," said Walesky.

It's a process Meg Weinberger, of Big Dog Ranch is familiar with.

"Several of our dogs are at out quarantine facility in Broward. The critical cases are here at Palm Beach Veterinary Specialists. Keeping track of where all the dogs are, and making sure everybody meets their quarantine," said Weinberger.

Having already rescued dozens of dogs from the shelter, some with grievous injuries, keeping their rescues healthy is a primary concern.

"We have a few dogs with Kennel cough, but so far we're doing good and managing all the dogs we have," said Weinberger.

With medical care and a little luck all the rescued dogs will soon find new homes, and new lives, free of disease.

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