Wed, April 08

Verde Valley Humane Society addressing distemper outbreak

Shelter Manager Angie Hare

Shelter Manager Angie Hare

COTTONWOOD -- A local outbreak of Canine Distemper has reached the Verde Valley Humane Society. One stray dog has been positively diagnosed with Canine Distemper, and six others are suspected.

According to a news release from the VVHS Shelter Manager and Board of Directors, in order to maintain the health of the overall pet population and eradicate the virus from the facility, VVHS is managing the virus based on recommendations of local veterinarians and the U.C. Davis website: (

Canine Distemper is a viral infection. It is a serious, sometimes fatal illness that can be passed by dogs and other mammals including raccoons, foxes, coyotes and skunks. Symptoms include fever (103-106F) nasal and ocular discharge, coughing, lack of appetite, difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

It is spread by airborne infected bodily fluids (coughing, sneezing) and is highly contagious. It can only be prevented by vaccinating. Concerned pet owners should consult their veterinarian. It is important to note that neither cats nor humans can contract Canine Distemper.

The shelter has requested cooperation from Animal Control Agencies throughout the Verde Valley to reduce intake by redirecting stray animals to other shelters. The VVHS will also not accept stray dogs brought in by citizens. Citizens spotting stray dogs should continue to contact Animal Control.

Shelter Manager, Angie Hare, strongly urges pet owners to check with their veterinary office to ensure that their pets are current on vaccinations. "The most important thing pet owners can do is vaccinate their pets, even if they don't regularly come in contact with other animals," she said.

In addition to suspending intake of stray dogs, the shelter has implemented a strict vaccine protocol for all the dogs in residence, beginning on the day they enter the facility. Local veterinarians will be offering testing and medical support to the shelter population. Strict cleaning/disinfecting protocols are also in place in the intake building. The virus is not evident in the public/adoption facility and the public is welcome to continue visiting the shelter for adoptions.

The VVHS appreciates the cooperation and support of the community. Anyone wishing to help in this public emergency may visit their website at and hit the donate tab. Donors may specify "emergency medical fund."

For further information contact VVHS Shelter Manager, Angie Hare, at (928) 634-7387.

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