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Bakersfield Animal Care Center temporarily halts intake of dogs

20210701-bc-Shelter (file copy)

There are more than 220 dogs at the Bakersfield Animal Care Center, officials said Tuesday. The city of Bakersfield Animal Care Center is temporarily halting the intake of dogs from the public in order to stop the spread of distemper at the shelter.

The city of Bakersfield Animal Care Center is temporarily halting the intake of dogs in order to stop the spread of distemper at the shelter. This intake stoppage is effective immediately, and will remain in place until further notice, officials announced Tuesday in a news release.

There are currently 221 dogs housed at the shelter, which is above its capacity, according to city officials. The center is still accepting sick or injured cats. The center also warned the community not to pick up any stray dogs, as distemper is communicable to other dogs they may have at home.

The center has proactively reached out to one of the nation’s leading distemper experts, Dr. Sandra Newbury, the director of the University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program, to assist in creating an outbreak-response plan, which included the temporary intake stoppage, officials said.

The temporary intake stoppage will allow the shelter to reduce its population in order to get the outbreak under control. Staff at the facility will mass test dogs currently housed there and those tests will be sent to the University of Wisconsin to determine the rate of spread.

“There are warning signs (for distemper),” said Nicole Gitzke, community engagement coordinator for the center, noting the first sign is often a “green gunk” that can be seen as a discharge around the eyes or nasal passages.

“It’s a really sad process and it’s a really quick process, too,” she added, noting that while there’s no cure for the disease, she has seen dogs recover with antibiotic treatment, as long as the pet is able to be treated by a veterinarian before it’s too late.

City officials also urged any pet owners with potential concerns about a pet’s health to contact their veterinarian as soon as possible and to make sure their pets are up to date on any vaccinations.

A free vaccine clinic for dogs is scheduled for from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22 at the parking lot of F & M Fabrics on 2954 Niles St. in Bakersfield. The city’s next low-cost clinic is set for 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 5 at Beach Park, at 3526 21st St. in Bakersfield.