More than 200 dogs euthanized after distemper outbreak

By Tanner Hesterberg | 

A Perry County animal shelter had to euthanize hundreds of dogs after an outbreak of a disease that only affects canines. This could have an impact on all dog owners in the region.

Distemper is a rare disease, but it recently forced authorities at the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter to put down more than 200 dogs.

"They unfortunately had to do that because all of those dogs had been exposed, said Dr. Danika Harvey, a veterinarian at Appalachian Animal Shelter in Hazard. "You couldn't adopt those out and let people take them out in the community and expose them to other dogs"

The best way to prevent distemper is to make sure your dog is up on its vaccinations.

Even though the disease affects dogs, it can be transmitted by many other animals.

"I think that may be where the issue has started from," Harvey said. "Because we have an issue with coyotes and foxes and raccoons. They can get the virus."

The symptoms of distemper are fairly easy to spot.

"With this disease, you will sometimes see upper respiratory signs, runny eyes and watery diarrhea, which you don't typically see right off the bat," said Dr. William Hagan, a vet who serves on the shelter's board and volunteers there.

You can also prevent distemper by disinfecting your dog's cage.

The shelter is currently closed while officials there try to eradicate the disease.

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