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Mesa animal shelter quarantined after 3 dogs found with contagious disease

(Maricopa County Animal Care and Control Photo)

PHOENIX — After discovering a virus and infection in a handful of dogs, an animal shelter in the East Valley is being quarantined.

Maricopa County’s Animal Care and Control East shelter in Mesa will not allow any dogs in or out over the next two weeks.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were three confirmed cases of distemper, a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus that is similar to measles, according to the American Kennel Club.

Several other dogs in the East shelter had Upper Respiratory infection, which is “basically the equivalent of a human cold,” said Maricopa County Animal Care and Control Jose Santiago.

Santiago said the dogs are being re-vaccinated. The dogs that were first discovered with the diseases were brought into the shelter over the last two or three weeks, Santiago estimates.

With no dogs being allowed in or out, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control is asking for help.

All new dogs found are being taken to the West shelter, which means it will fill up during the two-week period in which the East is quarantined. The organization is looking for outside groups to take dogs in, but is also hoping community members would be willing to adopt or foster dogs, too.

“We are desperately needing people to help us save as many lives as possible, so much so that we’re lowering our prices for the remainder of the month,” Santiago said.

Dogs 20 pounds or more have a $21 license fee. Dogs under 20 pounds may be adopted for $50. Puppies and Shelter Super Heroes are at normal adoption prices.

No dogs in the West shelter are believed to have the diseases and Santiago said they are being watched attentively for signs including heavy discharge around the eyes and nose, wheezing and fevers.

Santiago said the quarantined East shelter shouldn’t prevent anyone from adopting from the West. He’s hopeful there’s actually an opposite impact on adoption numbers.

“This is far from being an outbreak,” he said. “(People) shouldn’t be fearful of coming out to adopt a dog — on the other hand, we’re hoping that they will come out and adopt a dog, get them out of the shelter, save some lives and help us create space for the dogs that really need a space to stay.”

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