Rochester's animal shelter closed over a kennel cough outbreak. The new veterinarian has a plan
During her first week on the job, Dr. Kristen Braitkrus walked into a shelter that housed almost two dozen sick dogs.
“I hit the ground running,” she said.
The new full-time veterinarian at Rochester Animal Services was notified prior to her arrival that an outbreak of a unknown disease that cause gastrointestinal symptoms was plaguing the shelter, forcing it to temporarily shut down.
“We wanted to protect the community and protect the animals in our care as well as the animals in our community and the people,” Braitkrus said.
Lab results confirmed the illness was canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), commonly known as kennel cough. However,the bacterial strain causing the disease was new and current vaccines do not protect against it.
“Generally kennel cough is a very common illness that most shelters face, and it's not that dangerous,” Braitkrus said.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in most cases of CIRDC, the illness is mild, and dogs fully recover within 7 to 10 days.
On rare occasions, Braitkrus said, the illness can cause some dogs that are immune compromised or have other issues to get sicker and develop pneumonia or die. Braitkrus said two dogs had died before she got there. The disease is usually treated with an antibiotic and is considered self-limiting.
An isolation ward was created for the 25 sick dogs under Braitkrus’s care.
“All of the dogs are responding to treatment very well,” Braitkrus said.
About seven dogs have already been cleared from treatment. Braitkrus said as the disease continues to circulate, pet owners should not panic but watch out for signs like coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge, and have their pet seen by the family vet if those symptoms persist.
“It's out there. It's out in the world,” Braitkrus said. “They should just be concerned as much as they usually are for any disease their dog might contract from the outside world.”
The shelter is still closed to the public until August 28, but is currently doing adoptions by appointment only for dogs and cats, including the sick dogs. They’re also still offering services such as reclaiming pets during specific hours of the day.
“These animals are in good hands, and I’m proud to be here,” Braitkrus said.