The Fairfax County Animal Shelter (FCAS) is currently experiencing a wave of canine upper respiratory infections in the shelter’s dog population. While it is common to have a few dogs with upper respiratory infections (URIs) at any given time, occasionally URIs can spread through a shelter population quickly and cause more dogs to experience symptoms. Canine URIs cannot be spread to other species of animals or to humans.
Shelter environments and other places where large numbers of animals are housed or congregate can be ideal for illness to incubate and spread. URIs are usually viral and spread through respiratory droplets, thriving in humid environments and exacerbated by stress. FCAS is currently experiencing the two most common factors that can lead to an increase in URI prevalence in shelters: more dogs than usual in the shelter’s care and prolonged length of stay.
The FCAS has robust daily cleaning protocols, and shelter staff are carefully monitoring all dogs for symptoms. In coordination with shelter veterinarians, staff are reviewing housing of dogs daily, adjusting as necessary to keep healthy dogs separated from those showing symptoms as much as possible and treating dogs showing more severe symptoms.
Here are three ways to help our shelter dogs:
1. Adopt! – The very best place for dogs to recover is out of the shelter and in a home environment, and dogs with mild symptoms will continue to be available for adoption. Cat and small animal adoptions help, too, as fewer pets in the shelter overall allows our staff to devote more time and attention to symptomatic dogs. Shelter staff will provide visitors with additional resources on URIs so they can make informed decisions about visiting dogs in the shelter and adopting.
2. Foster – If you have no other dogs at home and can foster a large dog for two weeks, please email the shelter at email@example.com with the subject line “Two-week large dog foster.”
3. Postpone surrendering – If you need to rehome your dog, please try to do so yourself directly with a new family. If you need to surrender your dog, please try to delay at least two weeks, and make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations to help them remain healthy once they are at the shelter.
FCAS is located at 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA. The shelter is open Tuesday through Sunday – Tuesdays and Wednesdays from noon to 5 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and closed Mondays.
For more information on available pets, open hours, adoption process, and more, visit: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/adopt