The Mesilla Valley Animal Services Center is asking for the public’s help in the fight against distemper


Newsletter Report

The Mesilla Valley Animal Services Center (ASCMV) is asking the public to help it fight distemper by reducing the number of animals brought to the ASCMV, the city of Las Cruces said in a statement. Press.

Canine distemper has been increasing in the United States since 2021, and the ASCMV has seen a dramatic increase in the number of ASCMV animals with distemper, the city said.

Residents are asked not to abandon unwanted or stray pets to the ASCMV or animal control officers and instead do their best to re-house the animal themselves to prevent animals from contract distemper or bring it to the ASCMV.

The ASCMV should be the absolute last resort for abandoning your pet, the press release states.

Animal control officers will assist the ASCMV by doing their best to limit the animals brought into the ASCMV while continuing to provide the services necessary to keep people and animals safe, the city said.

“Distemper is highly contagious, has a 50% mortality rate, and can easily be confused with other illnesses as it can affect multiple organ systems, such as the respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems,” said ASCMV Medical Director Dr. Trina Hadden.

Even when not fatal, distemper can leave an animal with permanent neurological problems.

Hadden said an animal with distemper sheds the virus — meaning it’s contagious — one to two weeks before signs of illness even appear and continues to be contagious for usually two to four. months after the disappearance of the signs of illness.

The CSAMC consulted with Dr. Cynda Crawford, a nationally recognized shelter medicine expert who has so far helped more than 68 shelters deal with distemper outbreaks, the city said.

To combat distemper, the number of impounded animals must be reduced so that the ASCMV can separate incoming animals from longer-term residents, known as a “clean break”, and testing must be increased.

The ASCMV can run the clean break and testing, but must have the help of the public to reduce the number of owner-abandoned animals and strays brought to the ASCMV, according to the press release.

ASCMV is the municipal animal shelter serving Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. On average, the ASCMV welcomes 9,000 to 10,000 animals each year, brought in by city and county animal control and the public as strays or abandoned by owner.

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Jennifer R. Strohm