Animal Humane Society closes 3 adoption centers amid suspected canine influenza outbreak

The Animal Humane Society is temporarily closing three adoption centers in the Twin Cities over a suspected outbreak of canine influenza affecting hundreds of dogs.

The AHS said a dog brought in from an Oklahoma shelter on March 23 was exposed to the virus, and now approximately 200 dogs have started showing respiratory symptoms. While no dog has tested positive yet, the AHS is closing the adoption centers in Golden Valley, Woodbury and Coon Rapids out of an abundance of caution for approximately three to four weeks. 

 "It’s one of those viruses you know we all go to the doctor, and we think they should just give us medication, and we'll feel better. They tell us it’s the flu, and unfortunately, we just need to ride it out," Dr. Sara Lewis said in a press conference Thursday. 

There are two strains of canine influenza and both are highly contagious. Dogs will show symptoms within 1-5 days including nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing, and can be sick and contagious for up to 3-4 weeks. The virus rarely transfers to other animals and there is no evidence it can spread to people, according to Dr. Lewis. The majority of animals should recover.

Canine influenza is rare in Minnesota, said Dr. Lewis. The AHS had not been vaccinating for the virus but said they would be doing so from now on. 

"There is an approved vaccine for canine influenza, and we've advised the organization to vaccinate all dogs in their care," said the Senior Veterinarian in charge of companion animals, Dr. Veronica Bartsch, in a statement from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. "The quarantine is crucial to stop the spread of the virus and monitor and treat the exposed dogs."

If you’ve adopted a dog after March 23 from one of the centers, you’ll be contacted by AHS staff with instructions on how to care for your pet, should they develop symptoms.