Why we’re temporarily not doing adoptions or intaking non-emergency animals

What prompted this action?
An adult dog came in as a stray with concerning clinical signs, we tested this dog and found it was positive for pneumovirus, a pathogen not common in New Mexico.

Is this what was all over the news recently as a mystery respiratory illness?
No this is an uncommon pathogen in New Mexico but it is a known agent, and is quite common in warm moist environments and well studied in areas with a higher incidence.

What has happened so far in the shelter?
There has been spread in the shelter, we have had 2 adult dogs and a litter of puppies test positive. So far their symptoms are mild and all affected animals are being isolated.

What is this virus?
Pneumovirus is part of the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, a group of disease-causing agents that share similar symptomatology, comparable to a cold in humans.

Is this kennel cough?
Kennel cough is an older term that refers to one particular pathogen that is regularly vaccinated against. We vaccinate against this disease during our intake process. While the symptoms are similar, the causes are different.

What do we know about this virus?
There is no vaccine for Pneumovirus. Pneumovirus is not zoonotic, meaning it does not make other species sick. Pneumovirus is not usually fatal, however, it can cause pneumonia (especially in conjunction with other CIRD pathogens) in compromised dogs.

Why the sudden new policy?
Dogs housed in a shelter are particularly vulnerable to illness.

This virus is not commonly seen in New Mexico. In states where it is more common, they recommend closing for two weeks to allow the disease to run its course completely before reopening. With our current population, we could not do that and still accept incoming animals, it would overwhelm our ability to house dogs. Additionally, we need to have clean, isolated areas for emergency intake which hold new animals from potentially exposed animals to keep them as healthy as possible while hoping for a reunion with their families or a resolution to their emergency situation.

What do I do if my dog is sick?
Call your vet for medical attention. In the home, pneumovirus is likely to be quite easy to manage, however several disease agents cause similar clinical signs. Only lab tests and trained medical professionals can properly diagnose clinical signs.

What if I find a stray dog?
If you see an animal who is not hurt, please check with your neighbors to see if it’s their pet out for a wander. Research shows most dogs don’t go very far when they start exploring. You can be a hero and reunite the dog directly with its family! You can see our lost and found dogs here. 

What if I have a canine emergency?
Animal Services is still providing community emergency support. Emergencies are injured animals without an owner present, immediate threats to public health and safety, and protective custody cases. If you encounter any of these situations please call your local Animal Services Agency.