CANINE FLU OUTBREAK RESPONSE
A highly contagious strain of Canine Influenza Virus has been spreading in several U.S. cities and is circulating in the Atlanta area. Fortunately, as of June 8, 2023, all LifeLine shelters have been cleared of the flu and are no longer quarantining dogs. Treatment and quarantine protocols have been in place for the health and safety of our teams, visitors and the animals in our care and community. The flu is treatable and most pets make a full recovery in a home; however, in a shelter environment, animals get sicker due to stress and a lack of space to isolate. We will continue to monitor sick dogs and perform testing as needed given we know there are still Canine Flu cases present in the area. Even though we have no active flu cases, it’s still best for fosters and adopters to quarantine any sick dog (or cat) until symptoms resolve. Flu is not the only condition that can be transferred to other pets.
Please read below for the latest Frequently Asked Questions regarding the outbreak this year, the emergency protocols currently in place for our shelter, and guidance for our community. To learn more about the Canine Flu, please visit the CDC website.
While we have worked to overcome this challenging situation, our shelters are still facing a continuing space crisis. Donations are especially needed at this time as we navigate this crisis and continue to be a lifeline for our city’s animals most in need.
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The information on this page has been updated as of June 14, 2023.
Canine Influenza Virus, commonly known as the Canine Flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. The strain of flu that is currently circulating in cities and shelters around the country is H3N2.
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that Canine Flu is transmissible from dogs to people. Transmission of the virus has been reported in cats, but this is a rare occurrence. Please visit the CDC website for more information about Canine Flu, how it’s spread and best practices for keeping all of your pets safe and healthy.
Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, lethargy, ocular and/or nasal discharge, and loss of appetite. Most symptoms are similar to kennel cough.
If your pet is showing symptoms, please keep them isolated from other dogs for 28 days to prevent further spread of the disease and reach out to your veterinarian immediately, especially if they have no/low energy, decreased appetite and/or labored breathing.
In the general population, Canine Flu is only fatal if pneumonia develops, which is rare and occurs in less than 5% of all cases.
In a shelter population, due to numerous stressors and close cohabitation, dogs stay sicker, longer, and have a more difficult time overcoming the illness which increases the chance of fatal pneumonia developing. The best chance for a dog’s recovery is being in a home.
If your pet is exhibiting symptoms, especially low or no energy, decreased appetite and/or labored breathing, please call your veterinarian right away. The recommended isolation period is 28 days during which time you should avoid bringing your pet into any public spaces, including anywhere they have the potential to interact with other pets, such as dog parks and boarding or day care facilities.
If you adopt a pet from a shelter that has the virus, you should isolate/quarantine the new pet from other dogs for a period of 28 days from the day they left the shelter. During this time you should avoid bringing your pet into any public spaces, including anywhere they have the potential to interact with other pets, such as dog parks and boarding or day care facilities.
The Canine Flu has been circulating for years and occasionally pops up in different parts of the country at random. This year is particularly bad for an unknown reason.
Our current shelter populations have not received the Canine Flu vaccine. The vaccine for this particular viral strain is very difficult to obtain given outbreaks happening around the nation. While we are working to secure a supply of vaccines, we have not yet received them.
In addition, the vaccine itself, which also requires a subsequent booster, does not provide 100% immunity to its recipient. Immunity takes time to build in their systems. Therefore, following a 28 day quarantine protocol for any dogs exposed to Canine Flu, whether vaccinated or not, is the safest way for them to recover and prevent further spread of the virus.
When the outbreak was discovered, all families affected were notified including staff, volunteers, and all fosters and adopters that had taken pets into their homes recently. Enhanced safety measures have been implemented for our teams and visitors. In Fulton County, new emergency intake of pets was diverted to our LifeLine Midtown location in order to reduce the risk of transmission.
This is a treatable illness and adopters and fosters will be provided with detailed information on how to bring home a pet to care for who may have this flu, while preventing the spread to other pets.
The LifeLine Midtown location is now an overflow adoption center for new and healthy pets in need in Fulton County.
Yes, we are accepting emergency intake of animals. But, we need your help to keep healthy pets out of the shelters and reunite them with their families. If you find a healthy pet in Fulton or DeKalb County, please visit our Found Pets page for next steps.
Yes, all shelters remain open to the public. With our shelters at critical capacity, we still desperately need adopters and fosters to help during this challenging time. Please reach out to our teams for more information.
As of June 14th, all short-term foster programs, including Dog for the Day and Weekend Warriors, are reopened across all shelter locations.
Yes, volunteer support is greatly appreciated and needed at this time. Please follow the safety guidelines posted and shared at each shelter location. Gowns, gloves, and shoe covers will be available for volunteer shifts. Handwashing and changing clothes/shoes prior to contact with your pets after being at the shelter is always recommended, and is more important than ever. Please contact your volunteer coordinator with any questions and to find out more about our biggest volunteer needs at present, including matchmaking and adoption support at LifeLine Midtown and DeKalb County Animal Services.
This medical emergency struck at a time when our teams and resources were already stretched thin due to the space crisis in our shelters. Donations are especially needed during this difficult time as we continue to treat animals in need. Your support is crucial to our ability to provide the staffing, medications and resources necessary to face this head on.
While we treat the hundreds of ailing dogs already in our care, we have also have an overflow dog adoption facility in Midtown to safely house any new community animals who require emergency assistance. Financial help is needed to care for so many animals and especially those requiring special medical care to get better.
Make a donation today, or find out more ways you can help here, including starting your own social media fundraiser for LifeLine during this crisis.