JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Northeast Arkansas Humane Society is dealing with a possible airborne virus that is infecting dogs.
The facility has decided not to euthanize the dogs. To protect others from getting infected, they are also not taking in any dogs at this time.
Margaret Shepherd with the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society said she doesn't know where the virus came from, so they are treating it as if it is airborne. The symptoms started out with minor coughing.
"It has since escalated into a heavier cough, some of them are running a bit of a fever," Shepherd said.
In over 20 years of experience, Shepherd said she sees virus outbreaks like this happen every 7 to 10 years.
She said they vaccinate every dog that comes into the facility, and she compares their vaccinations and this virus to this year's flu vaccine.
"It's not covering folks for the strain of flu going around," Shepherd said. "Obviously the vaccines that we use are not covering this type of kennel cough."
Not every dog has the virus. They have the healthy dogs in a separate area in hopes of keeping them healthy.
"Our primary goal is for the well being of the pets at the shelter," Shepherd said.
Until the virus runs its course, the humane society isn't taking dogs in and isn't allowing any dogs to be adopted for three weeks.
"Most people who come out to adopt already have another dog at home, and we don't want to run the risk that their dog at home is going to get something from here," Shepherd said.
For two months, the low cost spay and neuter dog program is also suspended because Shepherd wants to insure the public's dogs aren't infected.
The dogs are being treated by a vet with the recommended medications, but it's taking a hit on the humane society's already small budget.
"We're not really set up like a veterinary clinic," Shepherd said. "So yes, this is incurring extra expense because of the extra medicine we are having to purchase."
Shepherd needs the public's help until they can take stray dogs into the facility.
"If they will help us to hang on to them until we know that it's safe to bring them in," Shepherd said.
Anyone who is willing to foster a stray dog can visit the humane society to get free dog food and supplies.
The virus isn't affecting humans or cats. The symptoms include coughing, lethargy, and stomach upset.
Shepherd hopes the virus will run its course in the next few weeks so they can get back to business as usual.