Humane Society halts St. Paul dog adoptions after flu discovery

A strain of canine flu that's infected dogs in the Midwest has made its way to the Twin Cities.

Animal Humane Society officials reported a first case Thursday of the H3N2 virus from a dog, a male, Shar Pei mix named "Toga" adopted from the St. Paul shelter on June 14. Tests confirmed H3N2 canine influenza. The dog is recovering well and is back home with the family.

Responding to that news, officials said they were halting dog adoptions and surrenders at the St. Paul shelter until they confirm no other animals are infected.

"And we're doing that out of an abundance of caution until we can assure exactly what's happening in St. Paul," Animal Humane Society president and CEO Janelle Dixon said.

The group is also seeking a second test on the dog and has also identified a second possible case in a dog that is also undergoing treatment and testing. Society representatives will also reach out to people who've adopted dogs from the St. Paul shelter in the last 30 days, urging them to take the pet to a veterinarian if symptoms develop.

In May, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed at least five dogs in northwest Minnesota had been infected with H3N2 and were likely were exposed to the virus when they visited the Lucky Dog Boarding and Training Center in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

The dogs developed a cough; some ran fevers and had a cloudy nasal discharge. But they all fully recovered and no new cases were reported, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said.

Humane Society officials on Thursday said the infected dog showed no signs of illness while in the society's care at the St. Paul shelter for 12 days, but it appears he contracted the illness while there.

A day after it was adopted it began exhibiting symptoms. The family that adopted it took it to their veterinarian for treatment and testing. On Thursday, the group said blood tests on the dog analyzed by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health came back positive for the virus.

Dr. Graham Brayshaw, the Animal Humane Society's director of animal services, said the dog didn't interact with other dogs.

"Direct interaction was very minimal," he said. "Actually nose-to-nose direct contact should have been non-existent."

Besides suspending adoptions from the St. Paul shelter, the Animal Humane Society said all dogs with "kennel cough" or similar symptoms have been isolated and are being tested. Results are expected by 4 p.m. Friday.

Officials don't believe the virus has spread to other Humane Society locations but are testing all dogs with kennel cough across its five Twin Cities locations.

Dog owners shouldn't worry about their dogs if they don't show symptoms or signs of illness, Brayshaw said.

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