Adoptions Halted Due to Dog Flu at Anti Cruelty to Resume


In early February, the Anti Cruelty Society announced that, as a precaution, the city’s oldest shelter would stop dog adoptions because of the dog flu affecting more than 100 dogs in the shelter.

Unvaccinated dogs that previously haven’t had the flu are susceptible to the virus.

Because many of the dogs at Anti Cruelty didn’t get as sick as dogs often do with the H3N2 strain of the virus, some thought it may be H3n8 or even a totally new strain of flu affecting the dogs there.

Coughing is one of several symptoms, lethargy, no being hungry are among others

Coughing is one of several symptoms, lethargy, no being hungry are among others

Testing from Cornell just came back, and it turns out that it was actually the H3N2 strain that spread through Anti Cruelty yet again. The strain that spontaneously appeared in Chicago in 2015, sickened thousands of dogs—even killing some—before settling deep into the city (likely now endemic in Chicago) and spreading around the nation. No one knows exactly how this strain of the virus appeared from Southeast Asia and then spontaneously appeared in Chicago.

Anti Cruelty has had its bad luck with this particularly virulent dog flu strain before. And, after the flu first came to Chicago, the shelter had to cancel their largest fundraiser, “Bark in the Park,” during which thousands of dogs gather together and walk in the park.

Anti Cruelty is hardly the only shelter in Chicago that’s been affected by the dog flu. The city’s municipal facility, Chicago Animal Care and Control is still battling the spreading virus.

Anti Cruelty Society has handled the dog flu responsibly

Anti Cruelty Society has handled the dog flu responsibly

Because the virus exists in the environment, more facilities are looking into vaccination. But, because shelters have so many dogs to vaccinate, the problem is coming up with a way to pay for it.

One way dog owners in the community can help, however, is to vaccinate their own dogs against the dog flu.

The second known strain of dog flu in the U.S., H3N8, which spontaneously appeared in Florida in 2003, has now appeared in 42 states.

Prevention is possible with a vaccination

Prevention is possible with a vaccination, which our dogs have received (in this image from Dr. Natalie Marks)

The newer strain, H3N2, is thought to be far more contagious, and sickens many dogs more profoundly than the initial H3N8 virus.

Both strains, however, are still problematic in Chicago and many other parts of the country.

Anti Cruelty has the situation under control, and will again begin to adopt very soon at their main location at Grand Avenue at LaSalle Street. Adoptions at their remote locations will also resume soon, if they haven’t already resumed.

Canine influenza virus (CIV) (dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs and does not affect humans. CIV has rarely affected cats.

There is a vaccine—called the bivalent vaccine—which protects against both strains of CIV. Worried about the dog flu? Vaccinate. Vaccination also contributes to community health.