MCACC: Dog dies of 'Strep Zoo,' suspending programs to prevent outbreak

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control says they are suspending some programs after a dog tested positive for a rare disease.

Between the two facilities, MCACC East and West, the shelters have about 900 animals. Yesterday, the staff received word that a dog in their east valley shelter had died and tested positive for canine infectious respiratory disease complex, a rare, but if left untreated, deadly disease.

"Anything we can do to lower our shelter numbers decreases the stress on all the other dogs that are present within that shelter, also there by making those remaining animals less susceptible to this pathogen process," said Dr. Leo Egar, a veterinary doctor at MCACC.

CIRDC is most commonly found among animals who are stressed, and therefore have a lower immune system. It's commonly described as a doggy strep throat, and some of the symptoms are the same as when a human has strep.

"Often times we have dogs that have low grade respiratory disease. A little bit of a cough, a little bit of nasal discharge, either clear or mucous-y," said Dr. Egar.

With many shelters holding adoptions this time of year, MCACC suggests that anyone who has adopted a dog from their east valley shelter within the last two weeks, and is displaying symptoms, should take their pet to see the vet immediately. The sooner the disease is caught, the better the chances are of making a full recovery.

"You almost can't get this disease if you're a normal, healthy home, pet dog. You have to be stressed or compromised of something else. So this, in and of itself, would be a reason to avoid dog parks," Dr. Egar said.

The staff here says they're being proactive by suspending some activities, as well as treating dogs with symptoms in their east shelter facility with antibiotics to prevent a possible outbreak before it can spread.

"Again, this is treatable, and as Dr. Egar just mentioned, getting them out of a stressful environment is key," said Jose Miguel Santiago with MCACC.