The City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center is temporarily halting the admission of dogs in an effort to stop the spread of distemper at the shelter. This admissions shutdown is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice, officials said in a news release on Tuesday.
There are currently 221 dogs housed at the shelter, which is above its capacity, according to city officials. The center always accepts sick or injured cats. The center has also warned the community not to pick up stray dogs, as distemper is transmissible to other dogs they may have in the home.
The center proactively reached out to one of the nation’s leading distemper experts, Dr. Sandra Newbury, director of the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program, to help create a plan for outbreak response, which included temporarily halting admission, officials said. .
Temporarily halting admission will allow the shelter to reduce its population in order to bring the outbreak under control. Staff at the facility will conduct mass testing of dogs currently housed there and those tests will be sent to the University of Wisconsin to determine the rate of spread.
“There are warning signs (of distemper),” said Nicole Gitzke, community engagement coordinator for the center, noting that the first sign is often “green gunk” that can be seen as discharge around the eyes or nasal passages.
“It’s a really sad process and it’s also a very quick process,” she added, noting that although there is no cure for the disease, she has seen dogs recover. with antibiotic treatment, as long as the animal can be treated by a veterinarian before it is too late.
City officials have also urged any pet owners with potential concerns about an animal’s health to contact their veterinarian as soon as possible and ensure their pets are up to date on vaccinations.
A free dog vaccination clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 22 in the parking lot of F&M Fabrics at 2954 Niles St. in Bakersfield. The city’s next low-cost clinic is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 5 at Beach Park, 3526 21st St. in Bakersfield.