Canine distemper is a contagious and serious viral illness. The disease affects dogs and certain species of wildlife, such as raccoons, wolves, foxes, and skunks.
The virus, which is spread through the air and by direct or indirect contact with an infected animal, initially attacks a dog’s tonsils and lymph nodes and replicates itself there for about one week. It then attacks the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. In dogs or animals with weak immune systems, death may result in two to five weeks after the initial infection.
While there is no known cure for the virus, recovery from distemper is possible, though it is a long road. Due to the highly contagious nature of distemper, an infected dog must be kept in complete isolation from other animals or there is a risk of spreading the virus.
Emerald City Pet Rescue heard about a very sweet dog named Rusty who was, unfortunately, suffering the sickness of distemper. Due to both the expense of treatment and special isolation needs, vet hospitals in the area were not able to take him in. His choices were either to find help for recovery or to be humanely euthanized.
One of our dedicated fosters stepped up and offered to take on the challenge of providing Rusty with the care he required during his recovery. She began working on his set-up right away, a completely isolated room equipped with gowns, gloves, booties, and lots and lots of Accel (a pet-safe disinfectant.) She embarked on this journey knowing that no matter how much care and love Rusty received, he might not make it, but she, as well as our wonderful founder, believed that Rusty deserved a chance at life. We initially had no safe place for Rusty during his recovery, so along with the foster’s help, we BUILT him one!
At first, Rusty took a turn for the worse; he stopped eating and drinking and grew lethargic. He was rushed to an emergency vet. The veterinary team donned hazmat suits and his foster mother had to carry him because he was too weak to walk. He was diagnosed with secondary pneumonia. Despite the scare, miraculously, Rusty recovered! Although Rusty is not the first distemper dog that ECPR has tried to help, he is our first “miracle-pup,” the first guy to pull through! What an INCREDIBLE spirit Rusty has!
Although Rusty’s health has vastly improved and continues to improve, Rusty must get tested weekly until all signs of the virus are completely out of his system.
Rusty’s foster mom says, “So many people are terrified of distemper. I was, too. But it’s not impossible to deal with, just challenging and heartbreaking if the dog is more advanced than Rusty was when we got him. It’s been a huge undertaking to get everything assembled that was needed to take care of him. As many of you know, when ECPR commits to a dog, they are in it 100% plus. This is why I love being a part of this organization. ❤”
It’s true! As an organization, we firmly believe in giving every animal every chance that we possibly can.
We have all been deeply touched by Rusty’s struggle, his incredible will to live, and his limitless capacity to love. Rusty, we are in this with you all the way! YOU CAN DO IT!
If you would like to help Rusty on his continued journey to health and a forever home of his own, donations are always welcome. Visit our site at http://www.emeraldcitypetrescue.org to donate!
Please keep an eye out on our media for when Rusty is officially cleared, healthy, and ready for adoption!