BARC to close for a week to investigate possible spread of respiratory illness at shelter

HOUSTON — BARC, Houston’s official animal shelter and pet adoption center, is stopping animal intake for six day in order to address an unusually high presence of upper respiratory illnesses reported at the shelter. The closure will last from Tuesday, April 10 until Monday, April 16.

BARC has partnered with Rescued Pets Movement, Houston Pets Alive! and Austin Pets Alive! to encourage as many Houstonians as possible to foster or adopt to protect the shelter’s healthy animals from the illness while the shelter is closed, officials said.

“Out of concern for the hundreds of healthy animals who come to BARC each week, as well as BARC’s spay and neuter and wellness clinic customers, BARC has decided to take immediate, preemptive measures to isolate the issue,” BARC Asst. Dir. Greg Damianoff said. “Temporarily closing the shelter will allow BARC to focus our resources on treating sick animals, but getting the many healthy and adoptable animals out of BARC and into foster, rescue or adopted homes is also essential.”

BARC is committed to the highest standards of pet welfare, veterinary practices, and facilities sanitation. In recent weeks, BARC has identified a presence of respiratory illness symptoms in its population and has quarantined dogs who have tested positive for distemper —an ever-present, yet treatable concern in communities with large populations of stray animals.

BARC’s  intake, regular wellness programs and spay/neuter clinic will close April 10-16 to allow BARC to:

  • Identify, isolate, and treat infected animals
  • Carefully monitor healthy but exposed animals for future symptoms
  • Ensure that no animals are placed into the community until they are without symptoms or past the incubation period
  • Conduct a deep cleaning of the shelter to reduce further contamination

Distemper symptoms may include thick nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing and, in severe cases, the neurological system, causing seizures, tremors and death. Individuals who have adopted dogs within the past 30 days from BARC that show potential symptoms are encouraged to contact the shelter for free medical treatment.  BARC will also refund adoptions fees and accept returned animals from those who are unable or unwilling to care for potentially sick animals.
Pets available for adoption can be found at http://www.houstontx.gov/barc/, but potential pet owners are encouraged to visit BARC at 3300 Carr Street, Houston 77026 and meet each animal in person. BARC is open for adoptions seven days a week from noon to 5:00 p.m.