Dog vaccine

The Deadly Effects of Distemper on Kern County Dogs

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Canine distemper continues to ravage our community and the warm winter we are having could make matters worse.

More than 160 shelter and rescue dogs have died from the disease in the past two months, but there are steps you can take to protect your pet.

The fatal canine disease known as distemper is extremely contagious. It cannot be transmitted to humans, but it can and will be transmitted to unvaccinated dogs that come into contact with other dogs that have been infected.

“Distemper is an immunosuppressive disease,” said Nicole Gitzke of the Bakersfield Animal Care Center. “So it’s something that’s an incurable, extremely contagious, viral disease that can spread quickly.”

The pup and his five siblings all died of distemper shortly after the video was captured. But this family of puppies is just a drop in the bucket of more than 160 shelter and rescue dog lives that have been lost to illness in the past two months alone.

“The unvaccinated community coupled with the season staying warm longer and animals roaming longer is a perfect storm for distemper to spread quickly,” said Nick Cullen of Kern County Animal Services.

Your own yard could be dangerous if an infected dog leaves traces of distemper on your fence.
The best way to protect your dogs is to have them vaccinated.

“Distemper normally affects very young puppies or unvaccinated dogs,” said Dawn Romero of Unity K9 Outreach and Rescue. “But we are seeing dogs as old as 8-year-olds who test positive for distemper.”

Older dogs and puppies can be infected and killed by distemper. It is extremely important to have them vaccinated as soon as they come of age.

The next free vaccination clinic hosted by Unity K9 will be available February 12 in Bakersfield.