Dallas Animal Services is one of many shelters and animal facilities across the region that's been hit with an increase of canine upper respiratory infections (URI), including the canine influenza virus (CIV).
Now they're calling on residents to join a sweeping volunteer effort and help nip this thing in the bud.
Working with experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, DAS has created a plan to create a "clean break" and stop the illness from spreading any further at the shelter.
For this plan to succeed, they need to empty two adoption rooms - home to 150 large dogs - between Friday, December 9 and Sunday, December 11, via adoption, foster, or rescue.
To encourage everyone to step up and provide temporary homes for these dogs, Friends of DAS is offering a $150 gift card to thank fosters of high need dogs this weekend. Rescue groups that pull one of these 150 dogs will also get a $150 cash incentive.
DAS will provide fosters with training, supplies (crates, bowls, food) and cover 100 percent of the dog’s veterinary care, including 24/7 online chat with medical personnel.
"Lifesaving is a community-wide effort, and DAS has never needed the community more desperately than we do now," says DAS Director MeLissa Webber in a statement. "Securing placement for 150 large dogs in three days is a big ask, but we are confident our community is up to the challenge."
URI in dogs is like the human flu virus: most experience mild to moderate symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, lethargy, and congestion. With rest and hydration, dogs can improve within 1-2 weeks.
It's rarely life-threatening in dogs, but it spreads quickly and is therefore a challenge to contain in a shelter or boarding facility.
The dogs that need temporary homes have been exposed to URI, but do not all show symptoms.
Webber calls this a perfect opportunity for first-time fosters to get involved.
"Our team will provide you with the training and resources you need and help you pick the right dog for your home," she says. "We are committed to making it easy for you to helps us maximize lifesaving this weekend."
Anyone interested in adopting, fostering, or rescuing dogs from Dallas Animal Services should come to 1818 North Westmoreland Road on Friday from 11 am-7 pm, and Saturday-Sunday from 11 am-6 pm.
The shelter also reminds dog owners that all dogs are currently at risk with URI and CIV spreading throughout the area, as reported by boarding facilities and veterinary clinics. Owners are discouraged from taking pets to doggy daycare, dog parks, pet stores, and boarding facilities.
"This challenge is significant but not insurmountable," said Webber. "We have a detailed plan to save lives and stop this illness, but the bottom line is that we cannot succeed alone. Our success hinges on the amount of support we get from the community. Please help us maximize or increase lifesaving this weekend; nothing is more rewarding!"
To learn more about #DoggyDistancing or the URI outbreak at DAS, visit www.BeDallas90.org/uri.