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Photos: Friends of Huntsville Animal Services/Facebook
Photos: Friends of Huntsville Animal Services/Facebook

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville Animal Services is issuing an urgent call for people to help foster dogs. There is a respiratory illness spreading there, according to Dr. Karen Hill Sheppard, the director.

Many of the dogs are still healthy and doing well, but many are sick, said Dr. Sheppard.  They have a combination of a a virus and possibly a second bacterial infection.

“We’ve had three pets that died that were here in our adoption program,,” she said. “But we had one pet this week that had to be euthanized and it was an adopted pet, it was a puppy.”

Dr. Sheppard asks if you can adopt an animal, or temporarily foster a dog, please do.  Sheppard said if you have a dog at home, he or she is not at a serious risk if they have had their basic vaccinations. Dr. Sheppard said if your dog is over 5 months old and has had at least one vaccine, he or she may develop a cough or sneeze but it will be minor.  She explains further in this video:

She identified the illness as Adenovirus Parainfluenza.

“What we’re doing is trying to get the building a day to rest, we’re trying to adopt everything out, and trying to keep people from bringing the dogs in, trying to have everybody hold them a little bit longer,” said Dr. Sheppard.

Dr. Sheppard said she believes most of the animals can be saved with temporary help from the public, to foster a dog long enough for the staff to get the building clean. However, if the dogs aren’t all taken care of in a few days, the shelter will have to resort to other means. “The unfortunate reality is if we don’t reduce the numbers of the dogs here, we’re going to have to euthanize some of the dogs because our building has to rest, we have to get the virus out,” said Dr. Sheppard.

The dogs that are sick have runny noses.  Many aren’t interested in food, or may cough, Sheppard said.

If you can adopt or foster a pet, please visit the shelter:

Huntsville Animal Services
4950 Triana Boulevard
Huntsville, AL 35805
(256) 883-3782
Hours: 9am – 5pm weekdays, 9am-3pm Saturdays

Other options include donating money to board the animals at local veterinary offices, or taking one of the dogs to board at your vet.  Local rescue groups including A New Leash on Life are spreading the message on their social media pages as well.