Miami-Dade animal shelter combating dangerous bacteria, trying to treat hundreds of dogs

DORAL, Fla. – An outbreak of a highly contagious and life-threatening bacteria has forced a Miami-Dade County animal shelter to suspend some of its services.

The shelter at Miami-Dade Animal Services in Doral is filled to the brim with dogs, and this is having an unanticipated effect on the four-legged population.

Streptococcus equi zooepidemicus is the name of a bacteria sweeping through the kennels, and the chief veterinarian for the facility is fighting against time to treat all 500-plus dogs with antibiotics inside a facility meant to house only half as many dogs.

“It is a disease that is spread through respiratory ways, so it’s very easy to transfer it in a place like a shelter,” said Miami-Dade Animal Services Chief Veterinarian Maria Serrano. “Dogs that have this disease experience fever, lethargy and respiratory signs such as nasal discharge, and sometimes it comes with blood, sneezing sometimes with blood.”

So far, two dogs have already died from symptoms consistent with the bacteria, and that’s why folks at the shelter are trying to get the word out to the community.

“It’s not something to be very concerned for the people health, it is mostly in the dogs that are confined in a shelter environment,” said Serrano.

Because of the outbreak, some public services have been suspended, such as an on-site wellness clinic that focuses on spaying, neutering and vaccination services.

Additionally, crews won’t respond to stray dog pick-up requests and receiving any new pets on site via drop-off is temporarily off limits.

The shelter is focused on urgently reducing the pet population within the kennels to curb the threat.

“If anybody can help us, it would be fostering and adopting any of these dogs,” said Serrano. “Again, all of our population is going to be treated, so they’re going to be protected.”

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.