DENVER - On Saturday, the Dumb Friends League on Quebec Street stopped taking in dogs from the public due to an illness affecting the shelter.
The temporary suspension was set in place following 12 cases of dogs with pneumonia since April 12. Dogs at the shelter will not be up for adoption for at least 30 days to ensure containment of the illness.
Twelve sick dogs amounts to less than 5 percent of the total dog population at the shelter.
Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Fankhauser says his team is working around the clock and treating all the dogs with antibiotics.
They don't believe the infection has spread outside the shelter, but anyone who adopted a dog since April 1st needs to be vigilant.
"It's important that people pay attention to their pets for signs of respiratory disease. Coughing, sneezing," Fankhauser said.
"We have reached out to several veterinary specialists and diagnostic laboratories to clarify the nature of the illness and provide the most effective treatment," the shelter said in a statement. "To that end, we are voluntarily ceasing dog intake and adoptions to protect the 263 dogs currently in our care, as well as the dogs in our community."
Since the outbreak began, five dogs have died. Healthy dogs are being treated with antibiotics as a precaution. The Shelter believes the illness got into the shelter from a stray dog that was brought in.
President and CEO Bob Rohde says the most difficult part right now is not having all the answers.
"Something of this magnitude, this is the first time it's ever happened in our 103 year history," Rohde said.
The case only affects dogs in the Denver shelter; cats and other small pets are under standard adoption and intake procedures.
Denver residents who need to surrender a dog or wish to adopt can visit one of the shelters listed on the DDFL website.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)