Press Release

June 2, 2023

SPCA Wake Temporarily Suspends Dog Intake After Canine Distemper is Diagnosed in a Litter of Puppies

RALEIGH, NC - The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County (SPCA Wake) is temporarily pausing unvaccinated canine intakes after distemper virus was diagnosed in a litter of puppies. Canine intake will resume after the quarantine period and there is no evidence of disease transmission.

On May 2nd, SPCA Wake admitted a litter of puppies from an out-of-state individual. Upon arrival at SPCA Wake, the puppies appeared healthy, and all standard vaccination protocols were followed. On May 16th, one of the puppies began showing symptoms and was immediately seen by a veterinarian. As soon as the first symptoms were noticed, prompt action was taken to quarantine, decontaminate, and isolate the puppies in SPCA’s care from the adoptable dog population. Currently, there are no animals outside two puppies from this litter experiencing symptoms.

After the confirmed distemper diagnosis on May 26th, SPCA Wake’s team contacted the families of the previously adopted littermates to make them aware of the situation. SPCA Wake is assisting adoptive families with resources and addressing any questions or concerns.

At this time, every precaution is being taken to minimize the unlikely spread of this uncommon disease. SPCA Wake is working in direct consult with Adam Birkenheuer, DVM, PhD, an infectious disease specialist with the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease that can be spread in the air or through contact with infected dogs, but can be prevented with vaccination. In recent decades, canine distemper has become far less common due to the widespread use of safe and effective vaccines,” said Dr. Birkenheuer. “Young dogs are at highest risk of infection before they’ve completed their vaccination series. The canine distemper vaccine is considered “core” and is recommended for all dogs and puppies.”

Vaccination is highly effective and critical to stopping the spread of this deadly yet preventable disease. Contact your veterinarian if you have any question on whether or not your pet is protected against distemper. SPCA Wake provides several free vaccination clinics each year for pet owners to educate and prevent the spread of diseases like distemper.

About the SPCA of Wake County
The SPCA of Wake County (SPCA Wake) helps pets and people in over half of the counties across NC through collaborative partnerships. SPCA Wake is an animal welfare agency headquartered in Raleigh, NC. Donations keep families together, make frontline rescue work possible, and save pets and people in crisis. SPCA Wake is an independent 501(c)(3) animal welfare organization and shelter.