Deadly Canine Distemper Virus Leads Shelter to Euthanize 52 Dogs

PHOTO: The Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center in Columbus, Ohio.PlayGoogle
WATCH 52 Dogs Euthanized Due to Deadly Canine Virus

An Ohio animal shelter was forced to euthanize 52 dogs this weekend after they found a deadly canine virus called distemper, a shelter official said.

The Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center in Columbus said one dog tested positive for canine distemper. As a precautionary measure, the shelter then euthanized 52 dogs, the shelter official said.

The virus is characterized by respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. It's fatal to canines, including wolves, coyotes and dogs, but humans are not at risk, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The virus can spread through the air, making it more likely to infect many animals in a shelter.

"This was not an easy thing to do," Dr. Nellie Wilbers, a veterinarian who works for the shelter, told the Columbus Dispatch. "No one wants to euthanize the dogs that we have come to love."

The virus can be spread from wildlife such as raccoons to dogs and there is no cure for the disease, according to the AVMA.