MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If you adopted your dog from the Memphis Animal Shelter, it could have a deadly virus. Twenty dogs have already been put down, another seven could be too. Administrators with the animal shelter issued a warning Thursday, October 20, 2011; there's no vaccine available, but they're working to save other animals.
"This particular virus is airborne so it's very difficult to guard against it," said MAS veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Coleman.
It’s a virus so serious it led to major problems at the Memphis Animal Shelter.
"We had no way to isolate them from the healthy population," Coleman told abc24.com.
Dr. Coleman told abc24.com it's the pneumovirus. It's like a cold for dogs and it spread like wild fire. It left employees with no choice but to take the lives of 20 dogs.
"There's no medicine to treat the virus, we treat it with antibiotics,” said Coleman.
That treatment takes about two weeks to work. Space is a big problem at the shelter, that's what caused the disease to spread quickly.
“We see these dogs recover but they just need a couple of weeks to recover and they're back to normal and doing fine. So there's no reason not to adopt,” Coleman told abc24.com.
That's what the staff at the shelter wants, but they admit they can't determine your adopted animal won't get sick.
"Once these symptoms have gone away we are assuming the animal is well. Again we don't know a lot about this virus, it's that new,” said Coleman.
This virus only affects dogs. If you decide to adopt a sick animal, the shelter will give you antibiotics and offer full refunds.
MAS is moving to a new location next month that has an isolation area. That should help lower the chances of outbreaks. The shelter's vet recommends whenever you bring a new animal into your home and you already have pets they should be separated for at least 30 days.