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Maricopa County Animal Care and Control euthanizes 55 dogs amid distemper outbreak

KNXV MCACC Distemper Dogs.jpg
Posted at 7:35 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 13:38:02-04

MESA, AZ — County animal control officials say they need help to save nearly one dozen dogs facing euthanasia as the organization tries to limit an outbreak of distemper at its east shelter.

Spokesman Jose Santiago said in an update Wednesday that 55 dogs have been put down since June 1. Of those, all but ten either tested positive for distemper or showed symptoms of severe illness.

Executive Director Mary Martin said in a message to the community that MCACC is asking for people to foster 11 dogs who have tested positive for distemper. Of those, two are showing symptoms of the virus. Getting the dogs out of the shelter will increase their chance of recovery and will help protect the other dogs at the shelter near the Loop 101 and Rio Salado Parkway.

"Most of the 11 dogs show no signs of distemper, which is characterized by cold-like symptoms, but all have tested positive for the virus," Martin said in the letter. "We have all the results back from our tests in our East Valley shelter and we have identified these 11 dogs who pose a risk to the remaining population because they are ‘shedding’ the distemper virus."

The shelter has remained under quarantine since June 5 to prevent the disease from spreading to the wider community.

"I am urging residents to responsibly adopt or foster these dogs in order to save their lives and keep the remaining population safe," Martin said. "We hope the community will step up and come to their rescue."

Any of the 11 dogs not adopted by the end of the day Thursday will be euthanized, MCACC said.

Families willing to adopt the dogs must follow strict protocols to prevent spreading distemper. Their adoption fees have been waved and the shelter will be open for extended hours, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., to try and get all 11 dogs adopted.