AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Animal Center said it has seen an increase in dogs entering the shelter with the distemper virus and asked for help moving 60 healthy dogs out of the shelter and into foster or adoptive homes.

“Since mid-July, AAC has seen six confirmed distemper cases and several presumptive cases. Additional disease control measures have been put in place to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading, however, because the shelter consistently operates above capacity, creating additional space for isolation has become increasingly difficult,” AAC said.

The shelter said distemper is a virus that primarily affects unvaccinated dogs.

“The virus can impact all systems in the body, but typically starts with upper respiratory symptoms and may progress to neurological symptoms if left untreated. The virus is spread through mucous, respiratory secretions, saliva, and urine. Fortunately, it does not live on surfaces for very long and is susceptible to many disinfectants,” AAC said.

The shelter said recent adopters should be aware of the symptoms of distemper such as:

  • lack of interest in food
  • extreme lethargy
  • severe nasal discharge
  • severe coughing
  • muscle tremors or seizures
  • changes in skin condition
  • inability to walk straight.

AAC said to visit your veterinarian immediately if any of the above symptoms are observed.

“Distemper has been prevalent in our community this summer, having devastating effects on some shelters. We are committed to stopping the spread,” said Chief Animal Services Officer Don Bland. “We need the community’s help.”