Flu-like viruses break out in Hillsborough County Animal Services

10:25 PM, Nov 4, 2013   |    comments
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  • Flu-like viruses are infecting dogs at the Hillsborough County Animal Services facility. The shelter will close for 2 weeks so over 200 dogs can be quarantined
  • Beau Gardner, 19, with his newly adopted dog- who he says had hookworm, mange and pneumonia when his family adopted the dog from Hillsborough County Animal Services in October, 2013.


Hillsborough County, Florida-- Dogs will not be allowed in or out of the Hillsborough County Animal Shelter for the next couple weeks.

Two new flu-like viruses are infecting several of the dogs inside. 

In a News conference this afternoon, the shelter's director, Ian Hallet announced the flu-like virus outbreak. He said some of his staff recently attended the National Maddie's Fund Sheltering Conference and learned more about upper respiratory infections.

According to Hallet, the staff learned Cornell University does special testing for two flu-like viruses- coronavirus and pneumovirus- viruses that currently do not have vaccines.

Hallet said they took 11 samples from dogs that showed flu-like symptoms- sneezing, coughing, runny nose- and sent them to Cornell University. They came back with 4-5 positive results. Some dogs had one virus; some had the other.

"The important part of those results is that it means that those viruses are here in our community. Those viruses are not born in the shelter; they come in from the outside," Hallet explained.

"We are not allowing any dogs into the shelter for the next two weeks, nor will any dogs be adopted out. We are also not euthanizing during the two-week quarantine period."

Local rescue groups disagree with Hallet. While they are pleased to see him alerting the public about the situation, they believe the viruses came from inside the shelter. 

"This is a shelter issue and this is a problem that has been going on for some time," said Terri Lynn Sugar-Robertson. "The shelter is not kept clean, even after USF recommended how to keep the kennels over the summer."

The shelter encouraged the public to help them with the dog intake they normally receive. The shelter received about 70 cats and dogs on average every day. For the next two weeks, Hallet asks the public care for the animals they find until the shelter is safe from the viruses. 

All 232 dogs inside the shelter will be quarantined for at least two weeks.  

The viruses can be treated with antibiotics.

Vaccinate your pet for free: The Humane Society of Tampa bay will offer a free vaccination clinic to protect animals from flu-type viruses from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 16. It will take place at Williams Park, 4362 E. Osborne Ave. in Tampa. 

Click here for more information

Recent Hillsborough County Animal Services stories:

Proposed staffing changes to Hillsborough Co. Animal Services
Dog mistakenly euthanized at HCAS
Adoption: Family accuses HCAS of adopting out sick dog
Protesters angry with Hillsborough Co. Animal Services
Parvo cases: Shelter says they are not an 'outbreak'

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