Orange County Animal Services Announces Operations Change in Response to Canine Pneumovirus at Shelter
Orange County, Fla. – Starting Friday, September 8, Orange County Animal Services is modifying operations in response to a recent canine pneumovirus case in a shelter dog. Pneumovirus is a contagious respiratory virus with symptoms including coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge. Pneumovirus can progress to pneumonia and difficulty breathing. This is the first confirmed case of the virus at Orange County Animal Services. Several other dogs are suspected to have the virus as well, based on symptoms. The virus is not contagious to humans or cats.
In an effort to isolate the exposed population of dogs while minimizing the risk of healthy dogs being exposed, Animal Services is temporarily suspending intake. Stray pets that appear healthy and friendly will not be accepted into the shelter. Finders will instead be encouraged to utilize the shelter’s Lost & Found Pet Forum, post flyers and reach out to neighbors via social media to reunite the stray pet with its owner. As the majority of stray dogs are found less than one mile from their home, the shelter hopes to aid in as many reunifications as possible in the community. The shelter will also temporarily cease taking relinquished pets, instead recommending owners explore other options, including rehoming sites, rescue groups and friends and family for assistance.
“This is a big move for us, and not one that we take lightly,” said Diane Summers, manager for Orange County Animal Services. “We feel this change to operations is necessary to preserve the health of the more than 200 dogs we have here currently and prevent further spread of the virus. We need to be transparent, and we hope our community can empathize with the difficult position we’re in.”
The standard dog intake procedures will resume two weeks from the date of last positive pneumovirus test.
Animal Services will continue offering dogs for adoption, with adoption counselors sharing information on the virus, providing education on symptoms to monitor for and reiterating the requirement to separate the new pet from any existing dogs for a minimum of two weeks, as is already required by adoption contract. Adoption fees for animals designated “ready to go” are currently waived.
These measures are similar to the responses utilized by Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services, Pinellas County Animal Services, Halifax Humane Society, Hernando County Animal Services, Pasco County Animal Services and Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, all of which grappled with pneumovirus over the past year.
“The diseases and viruses we observe here at the shelter are a snapshot of what’s occurring in the community, so if we are seeing pneumovirus that means it’s also existing outside of our facility,” said Summers. “We’d like to warn pet owners to be mindful of these symptoms and to speak with their veterinarian should their dog appear sick.”
There is no vaccine for the virus currently. “Canine pneumovirus is one of many contagious diseases in the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) group,” said Dr. Carmen-Susan Glotfelty-Ortiz, veterinarian at Animal Services. “It can require intensive care and in some cases hospitalization for treatment. Our primary focus is identifying and treating potential cases while reducing exposure to other animals.”
The greatest need at this point in time is willing adopters and foster parents to temporarily take in a shelter dog, the majority of which are medium to large in size. Information on adoption and the foster care program can be found on the shelter’s website.