- By now many of us have heard of the canine respiratory illness taking over several states and now it may have hit Kern County.
- Debra Gowdy, like many of us pet owners, wants the best for her dogs: Ruby, Pepper, Destiny and Charlie.
- With the news of a mysterious and severe canine respiratory disease spreading across the nation, she now has more to worry about when she goes to work at Kern County Animal Services, who reported two potential cases.
Debra Gowdy, like many of us pet owners, wants the best for her dogs: Ruby, Pepper, Destiny and Charlie.
“Those are my babies,” she said.
Gowdy, however, works at the Kern County Animal Services shelter on Fruitvale Avenue. With the news of a mysterious and severe canine respiratory disease spreading across the nation, she now has more to worry about when she goes to work, after they discovered two potential cases over the weekend.
“When this all hit, I actually called my daughter and told her to put clothes in the garage, because when I get home I close the garage and I change clothes,” she said, and that’s not all. “Took my boots off and wiped them off with sanitizer then my clothes went straight into the washer and I used the Lysol laundry sanitizer.”
This has become her new evening routine and will remain so until she’s sure her own pets are safe.
Director of Animal Services Nick Cullen said, like Gowdy, the rest of the staff and the shelter are taking extreme precaution with the animals.
“All we know is it’s a respiratory illness that effects dogs that sometimes can be fatal and the symptoms are onset rapidly,” he said. “We wanted to be proactive and say lets assume this is actively present in our kennels and lets treat every animal in the facility like its infected.”
Cullen said pet owners in Bakersfield should take the same precautions with their own pets.
“I love to take my dog to the dog park but maybe now’s not the time,” he said. “Any place where animals might congregate, this is the sort of place where this kind of bacteria will one prevalent.”
Symptoms to be aware of include:
-eye or nasal discharge
-loss of appetite
Transmission can happen through direct contact with an infected animal or indirectly through contact with food, water bowls, toys, or blankets.
At the Fruitvale shelter, the staff has quarantined over 250 dogs, all of whom are being monitored and treated for signs and symptoms. At this time, animal services is also not taking in any stray dogs unless they pose a risk to public safety due to aggressive behavior, or are sick or injured.
Cullen said a they hope a ten day quarantine will be enough to ensure the safety of their animals inside the shelter and at home. He also said they’ve reached out to UC Davis Veterinary School and the San Diego Humane Society, who have experienced similar outbreaks, for guidance.
For Gowdy, while her first thought is to care for the animals within the shelter, she hopes the public will do its part to protect the shelter and their pets. One way to do so is to not report friendly stray animals because the shelter simply cannot handle anymore dogs safely.
“I love my job,” she said. “But going home to my animals, I want to make sure they’re safe.”
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