‘Kennel cough’ outbreak forces Orange County Animal Services to suspend dog intakes

Orange County Animal Services has suspended intakes of dogs after animals at the facility contracted Pneumovirus, commonly known as “kennel cough.”


The highly contagious respiratory virus has symptoms of coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge. It can become serious, leading to pneumonia and difficulty breathing. There is no vaccine available.

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The virus is not contagious to cats or humans.

When staff first notified the county of the outbreak on Thursday, 28 dogs were suspected to have contracted the virus. As of midday Friday, staff said the number had risen to 58.

To minimize the number of infections, unwanted pet and stray intakes have been paused, except for serious health or safety concerns like bite risks. People who find lost dogs are encouraged to utilize lost and found pet forums.

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“This is a big move for us, and not one that we take lightly,” Diane Summers, manager for Orange County Animal Services, said. “We feel this change to operations is necessary to preserve the health of the more than 200 dogs we have here currently and prevent further spread of the virus. We need to be transparent, and we hope our community can empathize with the difficult position we’re in.”

Adoptions are continuing, though families will be provided with information on the virus and reminded to quarantine their pets for two weeks, which is part of the shelter’s standard contract anyway.

“The diseases and viruses we observe here at the shelter are a snapshot of what’s occurring in the community, so if we are seeing pneumovirus that means it’s also existing outside of our facility,” Summers said. “We’d like to warn pet owners to be mindful of these symptoms and to speak with their veterinarian should their dog appear sick.”

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Adoption fees for “ready to go” dogs are waived. Additionally, the shelter is seeking families to foster medium-to-large dogs.

This is the first time Orange County Animal Services has encountered a Pneumovirus outbreak, staff said, and they are following the playbook of other Florida shelters that have dealt with it in the past, including shelters in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg and Palm Beach.

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