In Defense of Animals, the international animal protection organization that runs Hope Animal Sanctuary in Grenada is spearheading efforts to rein in the deadly canine distemper outbreak sweeping Mississippi by offering free and low-cost vaccines to families in need. The Sanctuary is appealing for urgent support to fund the project to vaccinate unprotected dogs in order to save lives and spare Mississippi families the heartbreak of losing a loved-one to the preventable and lethal disease.
“Canine distemper is a devastatingly cruel disease that kills our best friends and devastates families,” said Sharon Stone, Operations Manager of Hope Animal Sanctuary. “We can stop the distemper outbreak if we act urgently to vaccinate our dogs. Hope Animal Sanctuary is offering vaccines to those who cannot afford it, but we urgently need Mississippians to pitch in to prevent this killer disease running rampant through our community - please donate whatever you can afford to stamp out distemper.”
On May 18, the Mississippi Department of Animal Health issued an animal health alert to notify citizens of a significant increase of the canine distemper virus in puppies, dogs and wildlife. The Department has tested more positive cases so far in 2017 than in the entire year of 2016, an indication that the deadly virus is spreading fast.
Canine distemper is a serious and highly contagious disease with no cure. It is spread through the air and by direct contact or indirectly, for example on bedding or leashes. It initially manifests as a high fever, reddened eyes, and a watery discharge from the nose and eyes. Infected dogs often become lethargic, anorexic, and may also suffer from coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea. In the later stages of the disease, the virus starts attacking the nervous system, brain and spinal cord, and infected dogs may have fits, seizures, paralysis, and attacks of hysteria.
In an effort to reduce the risk for further spread of this deadly virus, Hope Animal Sanctuary has teamed up with Dr. Daniel Hill of Winona Veterinary Hospital to offer low-cost, or in some cases free vaccines, to families who may not otherwise be able to afford the vaccines, in order to control the outbreak and help reduce the number of Mississippi dogs contracting this virus.
Vaccines will be offered at Winona Veterinary Hospital located at 566 Hwy 51 in Winona, Miss. on Saturday, May 27 from 1 pm to 3 pm. A second session will be held at Veterinary Associates in Grenada, Miss. on Friday June 2 at 10 am to 5 pm, and on Saturday, June 3 at 9 am to 1 pm. A third session is planned for Holmes County Miss. through Dr. Walter Roberts, with details to be announced at a later date. No appointments are necessary.
Vaccines will be given only to healthy dogs. Dogs with any type of illness are not eligible for vaccination. One vaccine may not provide total immunity, and puppies less than four months of age will require a series of vaccines from a veterinarian.
Please donate now to stop the Mississippi canine distemper outbreak: www.idausa.org/distemperappeal
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