Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sick Dogs in Brooklyn

This appeared in today's "New York Post". Just the animals to be running around unleashed in Prospect.

Sick as a Dog in Brooklyn
By Tatiana Deligiannakis

August 20, 2007 -- Brooklyn kennels that are dogged by an epidemic of a dangerous canine illness are turning away scores of pooches - and, in some cases, closing their doors - to prevent spreading the highly contagious infection.

Numerous cases of "kennel cough," an airborne viral or bacterial disease that effects the respiratory system, have popped up, particularly in Park Slope, experts said yesterday.

Brooklyn Dog House, a Park Slope kennel, temporarily closed last week after five of their dogs turned out to be sick.

"There is an outbreak in Brooklyn, and it seems like Park Slope is the epicenter," said manager A.J. Catanzaro.

"We shut our doors Aug. 16 as a preemptive measure so we can be ready for the holiday weekend coming up," said Catanzaro.

Park Slope veterinarian Dr. Dionne Burnett has seen an increase in kennel cough in the past two weeks. She said dog owners should look out for a dry cough, eye and nasal discharge and loss of appetite.

"If your dog is showing these signs, consider an exam," Burnett said.

"The best possible scenario would be to not put your dog in a boarding facility for the next two weeks."

Catanzaro said staffers at the Brooklyn Dog House scrub all surfaces in their facility and quarantine sick animals.

"It's extremely contagious - it's just like the common cold for us. You just have to let it run its course," he said.

Infected dogs have a distinctive sound, "like they have something stuck in their throat, like a cat coughing up a hairball," Catanzaro added.

The Dog House, which usually holds about 80 animals, now has fewer than 30.

"We took a big financial hit. This is a very busy time for us. But you have to do the right thing," said kennel owner Malcolm Smart.

Another Brooklyn kennel, Woofs 'n Whiskers, in Red Hook, will not be accepting any new dogs until Labor Day as a precaution.

"We've tripled our security at the front door," said owner Danielle Vidals. "We want dogs to be symptom-free for at least two weeks before we can accept them."