CANINE FLU OUTBREAK RESPONSE

A highly contagious strain of Canine Flu has been spreading in several U.S. cities and is circulating in the Atlanta area.  At this time, our Fulton County Animal Services shelter is healthy and cleared of the flu. There are dogs, however, at our  DeKalb County Animal Services shelter, as well as the LifeLine Community Animal Center shelter, that have tested positive for the Canine Influenza Virus. They have treatment and quarantine protocols in place for the health and safety of our teams, visitors and the animals in our care and community.

Please read below for the latest Frequently Asked Questions regarding this outbreak, 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.

During this outbreak, we have also opened our LifeLine Midtown location which will serve as a pop up dog adoption center. Donations are especially needed at this time as we navigate this challenging situation and continue to be a lifeline for our city’s animals most in need.

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FAQ

The information on this page has been updated as of January 24, 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.

Canine Flu is only fatal if pneumonia develops, which is rare and occurs in less than 5% of all cases.

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.

Our team received positive test results for dogs housed at our Fulton County Animal Services shelter on December 24, 2022. At that time, while the entire shelter population had not been tested, many dogs across our three shelter locations were showing symptoms of the virus. Positive test results for dogs housed at the LifeLine Community Animal Center were confirmed on December 29, 2022, as well as for our DeKalb County Animal Services shelter on December 30, 2022. Accordingly, treatment and safety protocols have been implemented at all three locations.

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. That location is now a temporary adoption center.

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, our shelters will remain open to the public. However, certain of our short-term foster opportunities, like Dog for the Day or Weekend Warriors, are temporarily suspended. If you have the ability to bring home a new pet and keep them isolated for the 28 day quarantine period, this will greatly improve the chances of the pet’s recovery and help the staff care for so many sick animals.

There are also opportunities to adopt and foster pets that have not been exposed to the Canine Flu, but are still in our care at other locations. Please reach out to the foster teams for information.

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.

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 secured a pop up dog adoption facility to safely house any new community animals who require emergency assistance. In order to support these efforts, we will need financial help.

Properly staffing and outfitting our new LifeLine Midtown location to accommodate dog intake from all of Atlanta will cost tens of thousands of dollars. Minimally, we anticipate needing to sustain these protocols for at least two months to overcome the outbreak and sufficiently contain it within our shelter populations. This will also impact our current adoption efforts which increases the cost of care as animals in need stay at the shelters longer.

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.

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