Phoenix animal shelter offers vaccine for deadly dog disease, leptospirosis

Posted at 4:05 PM, Feb 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 13:58:35-05

A local shelter is taking action in an attempt to protect animal owners and their pets. ABC15 has been tracking the deadly leptospirosis bacteria this week after our state has seen a severe spike in the number of cases.

On Saturday, the Arizona Animal Welfare League in Phoenix decided to offer a vaccine for the bacteria disease for the first time. Dozens of people showed up with their pets hoping to snag that vaccine.

"About 6:30 this morning people started lining up," Director of Shelter Operations Chris Flanagan said. "Our vaccine clinics open up at 8 a.m., so there was a little bit of a line."

Flanagan explained that our state has recorded roughly 50 cases of the leptospirosis bacteria in one year. On average, the state only sees less than five cases. It was because of those numbers that Flanagan said she ordered exactly 50 doses of the vaccine.

"... Thought that would be plenty," Flanagan said. "But, I was wrong!" 

That meant many dogs, like a Labrador named Brody got turned away. 

"Doesn't have a mean bone in his body," explained his owner, Tim Pollard. "Very gentle, very gentle with kids." 

Pollard brought the 6-year-old rescue dog after seeing the story of leptospirosis on the news. But, now he will have to come back again. 

"He depends on it, you know," Pollard said. "There's nobody else that's going to do it, so we do it." 

The bacteria is spread through urine and it starts off by giving your dog flu-like symptoms. 

It then can get more severe and begin shutting down their organs, resulting in death.

But, even though some dogs got turned away, many others like Cheryl Nez's furry friend got lucky. 

"We've had him for about six years, since he was a puppy,"  Nez said. "So, we would hate anything, you know, to happen to him."

Nez was able to be one of the 50 to get the vaccine on Saturday. But, she is still being extra cautious around her home. 

"We are having right now to have him pee outside our apartment on a pee pad," Nez explained. "So, he doesn't have to go outside." 

The vaccine itself costs $20 at AAWL. There is a second booster shot required two to four weeks after that for another $20. 

AAWL said they will be hosting two more events next month. One of them, on March 14, will require appointments. The other, on March 18, is a walk-in format that will be exactly like Saturday's event. 

They ask that you visit their website for updates and call to book those appointments.