Kyrenia Animal Rescue Centre in lockdown due to Distemper outbreak


Kyrenia Animal Rescue………

Readers mail…

We never know what is going to come through our door (or fence or our office) and we are used to dealing with all manner of sad little (and not so little) souls.

Our incoming rescues rarely come with medical notes or background info. But one recent abandoned litter has left behind a wake of horror, fear and destruction. DISTEMPER.

Staff arrived one morning to find a litter of pups abandoned up at the centre. They were automatically health checked and put into a quarantined area. It was not long before staff noticed that one puppy was snuffling and coughing. He was monitored carefully and the next day he had a fever and so was taken to a local vet. Distemper is not the first usual illness that vets here check for – there are many other illnesses here that can initially have the same symptoms – and the puppy was treated for other illnesses. His condition, at the Centre, further deteriorated over a period of time and the vet advice was sought. At that point, it came to light that there had been a recent case of a dog with Distemper in the Girne area. So the puppy was tested and the result was positive. The puppy was put to sleep and staff were advised to keep a close eye on the siblings. It was not long before they too became ill -Distemper. The whole litter sadly was euthanized. That was the end of the problem so KAR and the vet thought.

Not so.

Over the course of a couple of weeks cases were cropping up primarily in the quarantine area and also the puppy runs but then it seemed to spread into other compounds within the KAR Centre – more areas were being quarantined as best as possible. However still the Distemper spread. Hardly surprising when it can be spread by airborne viral particles breathed in.  The decision was taken to not accept any more puppies – as all too often they are very susceptible and no more infectious puppies could be risked coming into the Centre – it was a case of isolating the existing problem – not bringing more problems in. But what were staff to do when they arrive to find another box of puppies by the gate, another pup or teenager tied to the fence?

More and more dogs were becoming ill and more and more cases of Distemper were diagnosed. Staff and volunteers were at an all time low as more and more of their beloved KAR dogs were succumbing and dying, or being put to sleep, because of this dreadful visitor Distemper. Dogs that had been promised homes away from the TRNC, dogs who were happy and healthy, dogs who were old, dogs who were new residents – Distemper wasn’t fussy who it affected. The first adult dogs to succumb were some of those who live at the Center and are on maintenance programs for Leishmania (and there are quite a lot) – their immune system (due to the Leish) is already low and so they were amongst the 1st victims – they either contracted the Distemper or the Distemper aggravated their Leish symptoms and they died. Staff were arriving in the mornings to find dogs had died overnight – it has been heart breaking for them.

Our local Vet Niyazi (and Melda) was fantastic as usual – he knew how serious such an outbreak could be and was trying so hard along with the Centre manager staff and volunteers to treat and contain the spread of the disease.

Today it has very sadly been confirmed that now every compound at KAR has suffered from the disease. KAR are now, as of April 6th, in LOCK DOWN. No animal can be accepted at the Rescue Centre and no dogs are leaving the Centre. No dogs are sadly available for homing at the moment.

Following advice from a Professor in Turkey (where a similar outbreak has been reported) emergency supplies have been requested of a heavy duty vaccination along with supplies of intravenous Vitamin C (which is now currently out of stock in TRNC, with new supplies  on their way from France – due to arrive over the next week or so – hopefully !!!). Vets and staff will begin a massive program for all of the dogs left up at KAR to try and give them a chance against Distemper – we do not know if it will work. We do not know if they will survive.

But we have to do what we can – otherwise the very real reality is that there will be no dogs at the KAR Rescue Centre.

Some people may poke their fingers and lay blame at KAR’s door but everyone in the know is agreed that KAR have done everything, now and in the past, to prevent all infections (Including Distemper) – with all puppies and dogs who come in, after their quarantine period, receiving vaccinations, having health assessments, and ongoing checks and any necessary treatment etc. Sadly this has proved not to be enough.

KAR has thought about the pros and cons of going public with this news – we do not want to alarm people unnecessarily but it is such a really nasty disease and has caused us so much pain (and money) that we feel we need to explain – explain what we are going through at the moment and why we cannot take anymore animals in or let any of our KAR dogs out. We have already lost 80 dogs to this outbreak of DISTEMPER we do not want to lose anymore – but we feel that it may be inevitable. But we have to try and give them all the best chance of survival that we can.

Owners also need to monitor their own pets – KAR did not bring this disease in – puppies from the Community brought it to KAR. Those puppies had been in the community and were contagious before they were dumped at KAR. They caught it from some other dog in the TRNC community.

As you can imagine the cost for all of the treatments, tests and euthanasia so far has tested KAR’s budget seriously. The imminent program due to begin immediately will be very very expensive with over 300 dogs to treat. KAR are urgently in need of any help we can get to help save these dogs and to contain the Distemper.

You can donate at our Karakum office or into any of our bank accounts:

UK A/C Name Kyrenia Animal Rescue. HSBC 40 – 21- 02  11364812

TRNC CREDITWEST £ A/C 37 -301 – 0000000714     TL A/C 32 – 301 – 00000000056

To all of our staff, volunteers and vets – without your help we cannot even begin to save the ones that we have left. You are ALL truly amazing – we are just all so sad that so many could not be saved. Thank you.

It has never happened before in the TRNC like this – let’s hope that we can stop it in its tracks and that it never happens again.

We appreciate that you may have question so if you have any questions specifically about the situation at KAR please email our office – and we will respond as best we can – when we can. Please bear in mind that all of our emotions, energy and time is currently being spent on trying to save the dogs that are currently at the Rescue Centre – so we may not respond immediately. If you have any questions about Distemper itself, or are concerned about your dog, please speak to your vet.