(WHAS11) -- The new, highly contagious strain of dog flu has officially reached Louisville Metro Animal Services. Now, the shelter and the Kentucky Humane Society are calling on Kentuckiana pet owners to help control the outbreak.
“The virus is here, it's in our community and it's active,” said Karen Koenig with the Kentucky Humane Society.
All dogs at Louisville Metro Animal Services are being treated for the dog flu while all dogs at the Kentucky Humane Society are getting vaccinated and experts are urging pet owners to do the same.
“The only way we're going to be able to control this virus and control the spread of it is by vaccinating as large a population of dogs that we can,” said Koenig.
Experts say H3N2, better known as the dog flu, is tricky to control because it spreads like wildfire.
“If you're walking your dog and you're passing somebody on the sidewalk with their dog and the dogs bark at each other, and one has the flu, there's a high chance your dog is going to get it if it's not vaccinated,” says LMAS Director Ozzy Gibson.
Gibson says the other issue is that even after treatment, dogs can remain contagious for three to four weeks. That's why, in addition to treating all of their dogs, LMAS is closing its doors to new animals. Gibson says the shelter will treat the animals it has and restructure a few things to get the outbreak under control.
“We’re slowing down our intake and slowing down our customer traffic,” Gibson said.
Gibson says LMAS and the Kentucky Humane Society are also teaming up to set up community vaccination clinics that will likely start in the next couple of weeks.
Dog flu symptoms are similar to what humans feel when they catch the flu. If pets appear lethargic, if they’re coughing or sneezing, have less of an appetite, or nasal and eye discharge LMAS says to call a veterinarian immediately.
LMAS also warns that cats can get the dog flu but there is no vaccine for them.
“The canine flu is not the plague, it is something animals will recover from,” says Gibson.
Gibson says people should avoid picking up stray dogs in case they’re contagious. All strays should be left alone and reported to LMAS at (502)473-PETS.