Rescues and shelters need you to take on foster dogs this winter as a respiratory illness spreads.
As if we haven’t dealt with enough mysterious sicknesses over the past few years, there’s now one affecting our pups. A strange and contagious respiratory illness, dubbed canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), has been working its way around the country with increasing prevalence lately. The latest reports have cases appearing in at least 16 states, leading to fear and confusion among pet parents and animal welfare workers. In response, some shelters are beginning to take the Wakanda route by cutting themselves off from outsiders to protect those already under their care.
Sadly, this has led to heartbreaking circumstances, like what happened to a pup named PD. Last week, the San Diego-based animal rescue The Animal Pad received a call about PD, a senior dog who was scheduled to be euthanized. His longtime pet parent had passed away, and due to growing restlessness about CIRDC, local shelters were not accepting new dogs. Because of this and his advanced age, he was determined to be a euthanasia candidate. But the doctor assigned to perform the procedure couldn’t bring himself to do it to a dog who clearly had so much life left in him.
“It just really struck panic through me. I think most pet lovers’ greatest fear is what happens when you cannot be there to be responsible for your pets anymore,” says the organization’s executive director, Lauren Botticelli. Of course, The Animal Pad is not a rescue that’s able to simply look the other way in a situation like this. “Given how great he looked and his condition for being such a senior dog, it was very clear that he had been loved and taken care of for many years. For that to be cut short when there are people out there willing to help would have been such a shame,” she adds.
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Botticelli is happy to report that PD has already found a foster, but his journey is indicative of a larger problem now developing. Shelters across the country are growing uneasy at the prospect of welcoming new dogs into their care, and not all pups have an organization like The Animal Pad to save them. While Botticelli understands why some shelters, especially smaller groups, would want to minimize the risk of an in-house outbreak, she fears for the pets being denied housing.
“Where does that leave the animals that still need a place to go?” Botticelli wonders. “And with rescue groups being so short on resources themselves, it’s just a vicious cycle of these animals not having the help they need.”
Why shelters are being so cautious
In fairness, the founder of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic in Ohio, veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne explains that avoiding places where dogs congregate is an effective means of halting exposure. “Preventing the spread of these diseases usually involves isolating any suspected dogs,” she says. That being said, The Animal Pad currently has around 400 dogs in their care, many of which were strays. The org also has a separate facility where they initially quarantine newcomers to lower the odds of an outbreak. But they are merely one institution already pushing capacity, and other groups may not have the same space or resources to separate new pups.
Plus, there’s another possible wrinkle to these CIRDC outbreaks that makes the notion of shelters closing their doors even more upsetting. “Infectious respiratory disease cases are at a lull compared to where they had been over the last few years. Stories of a mysterious respiratory illness are inconsistent with what is being seen in practice,” says Dr. Lauren Krone, a veterinarian at the Veterinary Emergency Group in Newton, Massachusetts.
This article first appeared on The Spruce Pets and was written by Dotdash Meredith.
Dr. Carol Osborne is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty-plus years. After graduating from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carol completed a prestigious internship at the Columbus Zoo. Shortly afterward, she launched a very successful private practice and became the founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. Her approach highlights the importance of nutrition and utilizing holistic avenues in combination with traditional treatments. Currently, she offers holistic therapies and traditional veterinary medical care for dogs and cats at the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.