The Fairfax County Animal Shelter has temporarily suspended intake of dogs, after about a dozen dogs at the shelter exhibited symptoms of an unspecified upper respiratory illness (URI) with one case of fatal pneumonia. The staff is concerned that the source of the upper respiratory infection could be a virus known as Canine Influenza and is working with veterinarians on a treatment program and containment plan.
Test results confirming the cause of the illness should be available by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Until then, the shelter will not accept dogs that are being given up by their owners as the shelter does not have any secure areas to keep newly surrendered dogs where they will not be exposed to the illness.
Canine flu will not cause illness in humans and it cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans. However, humans can carry the virus on their hands and clothes, which can then potentially be transmitted to a personal pet. Dogs are most likely to contract this illness, but cats may become infected as well.
Canine influenza can spread rapidly through an animal shelter population and in light of the case of fatal pneumonia, animal shelter management is taking steps to treat and protect shelter animals as well as prevent further spreading of the virus. Shelter visitors and volunteers will be asked to take special measures to prevent the spread of the illness.
Sick dogs will be isolated from other dogs and from the public while they undergo treatment. Healthy dogs will be adopted out. Adopters will be given special instructions to seek immediate veterinary care if symptoms emerge. The shelter staff is working to find temporary foster homes for dogs that are healthy or recovering.
For more information about the virus view Canine Influenza Virus FAQ.
If you have no other pets in your home and would like to help foster a healthy or recovering dog until this sickness passes, please contact the shelter at 703-324-0208 or email Kristen.auerbach@