BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A highly contagious viral disease is currently impacting the Bakersfield Animal Care Center. The center told 23ABC, they’ve been forced to euthanize lots of dogs because of distemper. The shelter is urging the community to vaccinate their pets to help get the outbreak under control.
This comes after the center announced to temporarily stop the intake of new and stray dogs due to the spread of distemper.
The Bakersfield Animal Care Center explained that although, yes, distemper has been around for years and years, the shelter has never seen it spread at alarming rates like it is right now.
“For the last month we’ve had to put down almost 100 dogs, that’s outrageous numbers for us, we have never had to do anything like that before and right now there is nothing that we can do.”
The center says distemper comes in stages. It may start out with eye or nasal discharge and Community Engagement Coordinator Nicole Gitzke said if not caught in stage one, symptoms can then progress and become deadly.
“It becomes neurological, they start to have seizures, it is just a really really sad process to watch.”
To further prevent distemper, healthy dogs are being held in their kennels here ready for adoption, while the dogs sick with distemper are quarantined here for a minimum of two weeks or until they get better.
Gitzke said the center is also getting the help of an infectious disease specialist and are taking proactive steps to control the spread.
“The first thing we are doing is we are doing this halt so we can just have our population right now so we can start to figure out who’s sick and who’s not, next we are sending off our tests from the dogs who are sick that will determine who has distemper and who doesn’t and who is sick with what.”
Gitzke said the center is still over capacity and the halt is not affecting adoptions.
“Just because we talk about diseases in the community, that is an isolated area these healthy dogs are not exposed to that, and we don’t want them to be we want them to get out of a shelter so they can be in a home and not exposed to anything."
The center said combating distemper is a community-wide effort and is urging you to vaccinate your pets.
“If you have any animals at home and you love your animals, protect them, give them their shots they need those, there are options for low-cost options and I hate to say it if you can’t afford that then you shouldn’t have an animal, to begin with, this is like a child it’s a person.”
It is unknown exactly how many dogs at the center currently have distemper. The shelter swabbed 50 dogs today for the disease and will receive those test results on Thursday.
The center says if you see a stray dog, they will continue to provide the shots the dog needs but are asking you to foster it at home.