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Ongoing Updates

Distemper Exposure


Distemper Outbreak

UPDATE as of August 4, 2022:

Friday, August 5, the SPCA of Texas will resume intake of stray animals from partner Animal Control Officers in fulfillment of the organization’s contracts with local municipalities at its Ellis County Animal Care Center (Ellis County ACC). On Tuesday, August 9, the Ellis County ACC will open to the public for adoptions and will resume normal business hours, which are Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. At that point, the center will welcome back volunteers, adopters and community members. The Ellis County ACC has been closed due to the canine distemper virus (CDV) outbreak that began in early June.

At this time, the SPCA of Texas is only taking in animals previously adopted from the organization as space allows, and is not able to take in owner surrenders or stray animals surrendered by individuals. The SPCA of Texas reminds the citizens of Ellis County to look for lost pets at the Ellis County ACC and online.

The SPCA of Texas will feature adoptable animals at the PetSmart at 1451 N Hwy 77 in Waxahachie on Friday, August 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. and at the Lowe’s in Waxahachie at 1420 N Hwy 77 on Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In partnership with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, the SPCA of Texas is hosting a free pet vaccination clinic on Saturday, August 13 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Ellis County Expo Center at 2300 US 287 in Waxahachie. Rabies, DAPPv and FVRCP vaccinations plus microchips, all donated by Merck and Petco Love, will be provided to help curb the spread of preventable diseases and illnesses in pets living in Ellis County and help pets find their way home.
After the first cases of CDV at the SPCA of Texas were identified, in consultation with veterinary viral disease expert Cynda Crawford, DVM, PhD, the SPCA of Texas’ medical team, led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Amber Alu, developed a proactive, broad-based response plan to maximize lifesaving, minimize further spread of the virus and protect the community.

The Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center re-opened to the public on July 13 after all dogs at that facility tested negative for CDV. However, because dogs at the Ellis County ACC and the Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center (Dealey Rescue Center) continued to test positive at that time, those with CDV were isolated for treatment at the Myron K. Martin Spay/Neuter and Veterinary Care Clinic (Martin Clinic) and dogs at the two facilities were tested again late last week. This round of testing confirmed all dogs at the Ellis County ACC were negative for CDV.

Because up to half of all dogs infected with distemper are asymptomatic, these rounds of testing continue to be critical to determine if any of the dogs in care are shedding the distemper virus without any observable symptoms. Due to the fact that not all dogs at the Dealey Rescue Center tested negative for CDV, those dogs will be tested again in two weeks.

As a part of this plan, the following SPCA of Texas facilities will be closed to adopters, volunteers and community members through late-July:

Many of the SPCA of Texas’ programs and services will continue during this period.


Foster Sitting

Foster Homes Needed for Distemper Positive Dogs

If any dogs test positive for Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) at the shelter, we are immediately isolating them at our medical teams counsel and attempting to get them into a foster home. Since distemper positive dogs can shed the virus to other dogs for up to 3 months, they need to be isolated for that entire period or they pose a risk to other dogs at the shelter.

Please reach out via email at if you are able to foster a CDV positive dog this summer.


Information about Distemper

• Canine distemper virus (CDV) is highly contagious and can be fatal.
• It can affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of dogs and ferrets as well as wildlife such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes and skunks.
• Cats and humans are not at risk for infection by canine distemper virus.
• It is spread through all respiratory secretions and bodily waste.
• Pet dogs and ferrets interacting with wildlife or exposed to their waste are at risk of contracting the canine distemper virus.
• While young animals are the most vulnerable, unvaccinated dogs of all ages are susceptible.

• Symptoms range from no visible signs of illness to mild respiratory issues such as a runny nose and eyes to severe respiratory symptoms, thickened footpads or nose skin, seizures, neurological deficits and decline.
• Animals can be contagious for months.

SPCA of Texas staff is reaching out to each person who adopted a dog from May 1, 2022 through June 7, 2022. While your animal was up to date on vaccinations at the time of adoption, we will discuss the potential exposure, symptoms and testing options if your dog is exhibiting symptoms. If you have questions, please reach out to us directly at

Dogs become infected with CDV through direct (close) contact with an infected dog’s bodily fluids or through contact with surfaces and objects that have been contaminated with the virus (e.g., grooming tools, shared water bowls, floor, hands, etc.).

There is no cure for canine distemper infection. Treatment includes supportive care, but some dogs do not survive.

“This disease is highly preventable when dogs are properly vaccinated,” said Dr. Amber Alu, SPCA of Texas Chief Medical Officer. “The vaccine is very effective and is far less expensive than treating the disease or losing your pet to the virus. I highly recommend all dog and ferret owners make sure their pets’ distemper vaccination is up to date. Dog owners should also use caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs where dogs congregate such as parks.”

• This disease is highly preventable when dogs are properly vaccinated.
• The vaccine is very effective and is far less expensive than treating the disease or losing your pet to the virus.
• Our veterinary staff recommends that all dog and ferret owners make sure their pets’ distemper vaccination is up to date.
• Dog owners should also use caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs where dogs congregate such as parks.”
• As a reminder, all SPCA of Texas animals are vaccinated on intake if no proof of vaccinations exists. But if the animal has not previously been vaccinated, it can take up to 2 weeks before any significant immunity to such viruses is achieved.

Other Ways You Can Help

Your gently used secondhand items can get a second use with SPCA of Texas animals!


  • Bath Towels
  • Comforters, Blankets
  • Newspapers
  • Unopened canned dog and cat food, all varieties
  • Plastic heavy-duty tarps with grommets
  • 7″ or longer zip ties
  • Foot cover/booties
  • Cooling bandanas
  • Flats of bottled water, energy drinks, sports drinks


  • Opened bags of kibble, treats, etc
  • Prescription pet medications
  • Blankets or bedding with stuffing exposed
  • Bed or couch pillows
  • Used litter boxes
  • Used carpet
  • Fleat/tick powders or shampoos
  • Rawhide chews
  • Rope toys
  • Treats not made in the USA

More information


Your household items can help our animals keep their brains and bodies active.

Here are some of the items we need most:

  • empty paper towel rolls
  • empty toilet paper rolls
  • empty cereal-sized boxes
  • empty soft drink boxes
  • newspapers

These can be dropped off in the bin outside the front door of the Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center, 2400 Lone Star Drive, Dallas, TX 75212.