Fundraiser Helps Humane Society Fight Canine Distemper

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Paws in the Pool was scheduled as a fundraiser for the Sebastian County Humane Society and a way for the shelter's dogs to find a loving home.

But, recent diagnosis of canine distemper in some dogs at the shelter has forced the humane society to suspend adoptions.

"We're dealing with some distemper cases, but we're also dealing with 19 heartworm cases," Executive Director Joseph Sprague said. "We also have dogs that have been hit by cars that we're dealing with, so our emergency medical money is going very quickly."

Canine distemper is a contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the dog's respiratory and nervous system and right now, it has no cure.

"We have a lot of people in town that don't vaccinate their animals," Sprague said, "Then, they let them run rapid and wild on the streets and then they catch the disease. Then, they get picked up by animal control, they come in here, and they are bringing the disease into [the animal shelter]."

Dog owner Marc Sparks said taking care of your pet is important.

"They should always be checked out," Sparks said. "You never know when something like this could affect not only the humane society, but your pet, as well. You know, precautions are always needed."

"If people are responsible pet owners and spade and neutered them, and also vaccinated them, this problem wouldn't be happening," Sprague said.

The Sebastian County Humane Society sent off tests to a local veterinarian to be tested, and Sprague said he hopes to have adoptions back open within the next few weeks.

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