OUR OPINION: Vicksburg Animal Shelter worked quickly to prevent distemper spread

Published 4:00 am Friday, May 26, 2023

The city of Vicksburg Animal Shelter could’ve chosen a different path last week when news broke of a distemper-positive litter of puppies.

Distemper, a contagious and deadly disease commonly affecting dogs, cannot be cured. If shelter staff and volunteers hadn’t acted quickly, the outbreak could have led to the euthanization of every dog in the building.

But thankfully, as we’ve all come to know, shelter Director Kacie Lindsey and her team have the biggest hearts for Vicksburg’s homeless animals.

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They immediately initiated a 21-day quarantine after taking under consideration the advice of four local veterinarians and the guidance of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

That 21-day quarantine, now on day eight, has resulted in no dogs exhibiting distemper symptoms, no more dogs being euthanized for distemper, and a light at the end of the tunnel for the animals at the shelter and the people who love them and want to get them in forever homes.

Distemper is a very scary disease for a dog, but thankfully, it’s preventable with timely vaccinations. Dog owners are encouraged to make sure their pets are up-to-date on all their vaccines to prevent the spread of disease.

As for the raccoons that are seemingly the culprits in local distemper spread: residents are advised to call animal control at 601-636-6982 if they see a raccoon exhibiting concerning behaviors including extremely runny eyes, runny nose, coughing, fever and lethargy. The symptoms progress and lead to neurological issues including seizures and ultimately death.

Residents are advised against leaving out cat or dog food for long periods of time, as community food and water bowls attract raccoons and can contribute to the spread of disease.

Animal lovers in Vicksburg and the surrounding area should thank their lucky stars that we have such dedicated people working to keep our homeless animals safe and healthy.