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Distemper Killed 18 Dogs at Two Washington Rescues

Last December/January, 2 Washington dog rescues euthanized 18 canine (17 puppies and 1 adult canine) transported to Washington from California because that they had distemper.

Terri Myers from CruzinPawz Rescue Transport picked up a number of the canine on November 30 for Essential Road Mutt Rescue (MSMR)* in Bellingham from Rescue Oasis in Palmdale, CA.**

Rescue Oasis was a privately run kennel the place canine pulled from high-kill animal shelters stayed earlier than going to rescues. A lady named Kathy Schroeder ran it.

Ms. Schroeder and MSMR both knew at least a few of the canine put on the transport had been uncovered to distemper at Rescue Oasis.

After leaving Palmdale, the transport picked up 31 canine and puppies in Modesto, CA for Save-a-Mutt Rescue in Stanwood, WA. A few of them rode in the van with the uncovered canine.

No one ever informed Save-a-Mutt founder Jennifer Ward that its canine rode in a van with canine exposed to distemper; she solely came upon a month later when some of her puppies from that transport started to die.

Over the subsequent few weeks, Save-a-Mutt euthanized 1 adult canine and 9 puppies contaminated with distemper. MSMR euthanized eight puppies.

This publish will look at the chain of events that led to the deaths of the canine/puppies and what might have finished to stop it.

Canine Distemper: Extremely Contagious, No Remedy

Canine distemper is “a…..serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of puppies and dogs.”

It spreads via airborne exposure, direct contact with an infected animal, or oblique contact (publicity to bowls, blankets, and so forth. utilized by an infected animal).

In contrast to parvo, which may survive within the setting for up to a yr, distemper solely survives a number of hours at room temperature.

Canine distemper has an incubation interval of 1-2 weeks but it can be as long as Four-5 weeks before an infected dog exhibits symptoms of the disease.

A dog can carry the virus for weeks without displaying any signs and still infect other canine.

Puppies are notably prone because their immune methods aren’t absolutely developed.

Symptoms of distemper embrace:

  • fever
  • watery discharge from the nostril and eyes
  • coughing
  • lethargy
  • diarrhea
  • lack of urge for food

The virus assaults the nervous system because it progresses. This causes circling conduct, head tilting, seizures, muscle twitching, paralysis, and thickening of foot pads.

The virus is particularly nasty because it’s extremely contagious, typically fatal, and doesn’t have a remedy.

Once a canine is both exposed to or has distemper, it have to be remoted to stop the virus from spreading.

After recovering from distemper a canine can nonetheless shed the virus for up to 120 days.

The American Veterinary Medical Affiliation says remedy often consists of “supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections; control vomiting, diarrhea and neurologic symptoms; and combat dehydration through administration of fluids.”

Dogs Pulled from California Shelters Brought Distemper to Rescue Oasis

Last fall, two canine contaminated with the distemper virus arrived at Rescue Oasis from California municipal shelters.


Benji (center dog) arrived at Rescue Oasis in early November. He was put in isolation with these 2 canine as a result of they thought he had kennel cough. He was recognized with distemper after he arrived at a Washington rescue. Picture from Rescue Oasis.

A scruffy little yellowish dog named Benji arrived at Rescue Oasis in early November. He got here from from Los Angeles County Animal Care and Management in Lancaster.

Completely satisfied Tails Dog Rescue in Oak Harbor, WA initially scheduled him for transport on November 9; nevertheless, Completely happy Tails pulled him from the transport as a result of he showed indicators of sickness.

On November 13, Rescue Oasis posted an image of Benji with 2 other canine on its Fb web page. It stated the canine have been in isolation for kennel cough.

Benji left Rescue Oasis on November 17 for transport to Completely happy Tails Canine Rescue. He went to an emergency vet on November 22.

The vet tested Benji and found he had distemper. Joyful Tails founder Kim Welsh then relayed Benji’s analysis to Ms. Schroeder at Rescue Oasis.


Simon arrived at Rescue Oasis in November. His transport was cancelled a number of occasions because he was sick. He was ultimately recognized with distemper. Rescue Oasis put Sadie Mae and her puppies in a kennel next to him. Photograph from Rescue Oasis.

A black, long-haired terrier mix named Simon arrived at Rescue Oasis round October 23. He came from the Kern County Animal Providers in Bakersfield, CA.

Simon was scheduled to go to Animal Defense Rescue in Eastsound on Orcas Island in late November. However on November 23 a consultant from the rescue contacted Ms. Myers to tug Simon from the transport as a result of he was “too sick” it was “too risky” to put him on it.

Ms. Myers stated she later discovered “Simon had goopy eyes but no cough or sneezing.”

The consultant contacted Ms. Myers with CruzinPawz on December 9  to once more reschedule Simon’s transport.

She added that “she knew he had distemper on November 23, and that he was still being cared for at Rescue Oasis.”

Ms. Schroeder isolated Simon when began displaying symptoms of what she initially thought was kennel cough. Ultimately he was recognized with distemper and went to Ms. Schroeder’s house to get well.

He left Rescue Oasis on January 4 for Animal Protection Rescue in Oak Harbor.

Dogs Coming to Washington Uncovered to Distemper Virus at Rescue Oasis

Major Road Mutt Rescue used Rescue Oasis last fall to hold some canine it pulled from shelters earlier than transporting them to Washington.

On the end of November the rescue had 2 females and their puppies at Rescue Oasis – Sabrina, a gray and white pit bull with eight puppies, and Sadie Mae, a shepherd mix with 6 puppies.

The rescue contracted CruzinPawz Rescue Transport to select these canine up on November 30 and convey them to Bellingham.

Sabrina and Sadie Mae

Sabrina arrived at Rescue Oasis in early November.

Ms. Schroeder put Sabrina in the same kennel in an isolation room that Simon and the other 2 canine occupied a number of days earlier.

Sabrina arrived at Rescue Oasis in November. She gave start to her puppies in the identical kennel that Benji occupied. Photograph from Rescue Oasis.

Because the distemper virus is just contagious for a couple of hours, she and her puppies in all probability weren’t exposed to it within the kennel until someone carried it in after having direct contact with a dog exposed to distemper.

Sadie Mae arrived at Rescue Oasis in mid-November with 6 puppies. Ms. Schroeder put her in the identical isolation room as Simon, the terrier mix that confirmed signs of illness.

Ms. Schroeder stated all the kennels in isolation had metallic sheets between them to stop illnesses/viruses from spreading.

But the sheets have been only about Four ft high, and because the kennels have been manufactured from chain link fencing, I don’t consider they have been satisfactory to stop infected canine from spreading the virus.

Based mostly on this publish from MSMR’s Facebook web page, we all know Recue Oasis kenneled Sadie Mae and her puppies next to Simon:

Sadie Mae arrived at Rescue Oasis in November. She and her puppies have been kenneled subsequent to Simon who was in isolation because he had “goopy eyes.”

“On November 23rd, however, Ms. Schroeder notified MSMR that there was a possible distemper exposure from a dog who was kenneled next to the litter of puppies. We were told that there was a board between the kennels, the dog was showing no clinical signs except goopy eyes. No sneezing or coughing. We were told a vet came out, and between us, the vet and Kathy, at rescue oasis, we decided to go ahead and vaccinate the puppies early in case of exposure. We were told the vet was not concerned at all about the puppies because of lack of clinical signs from the dog kenneled next to them. Sadie Mae and Puppies got their health certs.”

This statement exhibits that, on November 23, Ms. Schroeder and MSMR both knew that Sadie Mae and her litter scheduled for transport to MSMR 7 days later had been exposed to distemper.

Dogs Exposed to Distemper Virus Infected Other Dogs on Transport

While enroute to Essential Road Mutt Rescue, Ms. Myers stopped in Modesto, CA to satisfy a lady who was fostering 31 canine and puppies going to Save-a-Mutt Rescue in Marysville, WA:

  • Josie – Giant Breed Mix with 10 puppies
  • Sicily – Giant Breed Combine with Four puppies
  • 5 Chihuahua puppies
  • Four Chihuahua combine puppies
  • 6 German Shepherd puppies

During half the transport, some of the uncovered canine from Rescue Oasis rode in the same van as the canine going to Save-a-Mutt (they left Modesto in 2 vans).

Whereas unloading the canine and puppies in Marysville, she observed that Sadie Mae, the dog going to MSMR together with her litter, had “green snot” coming out of her nostril.

None of the other canine seemed to be sick though Ms. Myers stated one in every of Sadie Mae’s puppies had been sitting by itself in the course of the journey and didn’t eat with the remainder of the litter.

Fundamental Road Mutt Rescue

After unloading the canine and puppies in Marysville, Ms. Myers and her volunteer drove to Burlington to drop off the canine and puppies for MSMR.

About 3 hours after the canine arrived, MSMR texted Ms. Myers to say that she took one of many puppies to an emergency vet as a result of he “seemed lethargic and had a mucus poop.”

The vet recognized the puppy with pneumonia, they usually euthanized him later that night time. The subsequent day MSMR took the Mother and the rest of the litter to a vet who thought that they had kennel cough or pneumonia. He gave them antibiotics and despatched them residence.

I don’t know if anyone from MSMR knowledgeable the veterinarian that the canine had been uncovered to distemper.

Over the subsequent several days extra puppies started to get sick. On December 8, MSMR informed Ms. Myers that the vet did a PCR culture to find out if that they had distemper.

On December 13, MSMR advised Ms. Myers a few of the canine tested constructive for distemper and made a public announcement on its Facebook the subsequent day.

Finally, MRMR euthanized eight puppies resulting from distemper.


Sicily was a stray in California rescued by Save-a-Mutt. She was uncovered to distemper on the transport from Rescue Oasis and needed to be euthanized on Christmas day. She contracted distemper because she hadn’t accomplished her collection of distemper vaccinations. Photograph from Save-a-Mutt.

No one informed Save-a-Mutt founder Jennifer Ward that a few of her canine and puppies rode with the canine exposed to distemper, even after MSMR’s vet confirmed that some of their canine from Rescue Oasis examined constructive for distemper on December 13.

In mid-December, one of many puppies developed respiratory issues. Ms. Ward took to him to the vet on December 19 and advised Ms. Myers that it might have kennel cough.

Ms. Myers did NOT inform her that a few of Save-a-Mutt’s canine rode in the identical van as a few of the MSMR canine recognized with distemper.

On December 22, Jennifer euthanized the pet on account of seizures and neurological problems.

On Christmas day, she euthanized Sicily, the mom of one of the litters that arrived on December 1.

The subsequent day, Jennifer contacted Ms. Myers to let her know she put down a few of the canine from Rescue Oasis resulting from distemper.

Only then, 2 weeks after she knew the analysis for MSMR’s puppies, did Ms. Myers tell Jennifer that MSMR needed to put down some of their puppies as a result of distemper.

Finally, Save-a-Mutt euthanized Sicily and 9 puppies from 3 totally different litters.

Distemper: Troublesome to Diagnose, Extremely Contagious

Distemper is a very insidious virus because it’s extraordinarily contagious and often deadly. Dogs that do survive typically have permanent neurological injury.

In line with, the virus is troublesome to diagnose as a result of preliminary signs can appear similar to “run-in-the mill kennel cough.”

The article also notes that acutely contaminated animals shed distemper in all body secretions.

It spreads “by direct contact, by aerosol or respiratory droplet exposure. Dogs are capable of aerosolizing droplets up to 20 feet, meaning “this disease can be considered an “air-borne” contagion.”

However although distemper is tough to diagnose and management, individuals can take steps to stop it from spreading as soon as they determine the virus.

Dog Deaths Have been Preventable

What makes the deaths of those 18 canine and puppies much more tragic is that they might have been prevented.

Considered one of nine puppies with distemper euthanized by Save-a-Mutt. Photograph from Save-a-Mutt.

Ms. Schroeder posted on the Rescue Oasis Fb web page last January that “proper isolation, hygiene, and sanitation are key” to stopping outbreaks of illnesses in shelters, “but they can only do so much.”

I agree.

Dogs’ unknown medical histories and variable virus incubation durations make it nearly unimaginable for any shelter to stop outbreaks.

Illnesses can pop up in any shelter or boarding facility, even one the place employees clear and disinfect every floor repeatedly and properly isolate all infected canine.

If a shelter takes all the appropriate precautions, nevertheless, it may possibly significantly scale back the prospect of an outbreak or reduce the spread when an outbreak occurs.

Based mostly on the proof I’ve seen, Rescue Oasis didn’t have safeguards in place that would have protected the canine coming to Washington from publicity to distemper.

Sick Dogs Not Correctly Isolated notes that when a shelter has a canine contaminated with distemper, it should “make a clean break between exposed/vulnerable dogs and new incoming ones” by isolating all sick canine from the remainder of the canine in the shelter.

The website also says, “This (isolation) is of utmost importance as failure to do so will likely perpetuate the disease in the shelter.”

It also says, “Isolation must take into account the potential for both aerosolized (airborne) and fomite (objects/materials) spread of virus.”

All of the sources I discovered isolating a dog infected with or uncovered to distemper is step one to take forestall the spread of the virus.

Ms. Schroeder acknowledged that Sadie Mae and her puppies have been in the same “isolation room” as Simon.

She also stated she put Four-foot items of sheet metallic between the chain hyperlink kennels to stop the virus from spreading.

But I don’t assume the she correctly remoted the moms and puppies.

Here’s an example of the 4-foot metallic shelter between kennels in the isolation room at Rescue Oasis. It doesn’t adequately forestall the spread of distemper as the airborne virus can journey as much as 20 ft.

Isolation means a sick/uncovered canine goes to a separate room utterly segregated from the healthy canine.

As an alternative, Rescue Oasis put Sabrina her puppies next to the kennel that housed Benji and the two other canine suspected of getting kennel cough. (keep in mind Benji ultimately developed distemper after leaving Palmdale).

And when Sadie Mae arrived together with her puppies, Rescue Oasis put her in the identical “isolation area” as Simon, who was later recognized with distemper, and Sabrina and her puppies.

I consider that Simon wouldn’t have exposed Sadie Mae or any of her puppies to distemper if Rescue Oasis isolated the sick canine in a unique room and stored them utterly separated from the moms and their puppies.

Exposed Dogs Transported Too Quickly

The crucial level of this entire saga occurred when Ms. Schroeder and MSMR determined to ship the canine uncovered to distemper on the transport.

In a textual content to Ms. Myers, Ms. Schroeder claimed a veterinarian stated it might be okay to move the canine because “Simon wasn’t coughing or sneezing there was probably minimal exposure especially with the sheet metal between the cages.”

This doesn’t make sense to me. Many sources say to quarantine canine “possibly exposed” to distemper for at least a month. notes, “quarantine of canine probably exposed to distemper ought to be a minimum of 1 month, and even then it is unattainable to make certain of catching all instances.

So why did a vet log off on transporting a mom and puppies exposed to distemper before the top of this virus’ incubation interval?

I requested Ms. Schroeder if I might converse to the vet to confirm what she stated.

She refused to offer me his identify.

Ultimately I found the identify of the vet and left messages together with his office twice but he by no means returned my calls.

Why the shortage of transparency?

If Rescue Oasis’ selections have been based mostly on sound medical evidence, why not make all the pertinent info public?

The bottom line is that, once individuals knew the Sadie Mae and her puppies had been exposed to distemper on November 23, they should have been (properly) quarantined for at least a month as an alternative of put on the transport every week later.

Ms. Schroeder did admit that Rescue Oasis had other outbreaks of distemper however she didn’t supply specific info.

Poor Communication = Dog Deaths

CruzinPawz Rescue Transport and MSMR made a huge mistake that doubtless resulted within the deaths of at least a number of the canine going to Save-a-Mutt in Marysville.

For almost a month, neither of them advised Jennifer Ward at Save-a-Mutt that a few of her canine and puppies on the transport rode in the same van as canine exposed to distemper.

Even when Jennifer advised Ms. Myers that some of her puppies appeared to have kennel cough, Ms. Myers didn’t tell her MSMR euthanized some of its puppies from from the transport as a result of distemper.

Jennifer didn’t find out that some MSMR’s canine on the transport developed distemper until December 26 when she contacted Ms. Myers 26 to say some of her canine from the transport tested constructive for distemper.

Only then did Ms. Myers inform her some of Save-a-Mutt’s canine rode in the identical transport as the MSMR canine uncovered to distemper.

This lack of communication didn’t simply influence Jennifer and the canine at Save-a-Mutt; it traumatized 2 households who adopted 3 contaminated puppies at a Save-a-Mutt adoption occasion on December 16.

All 3 died soon after the families adopted them.

A telephone call from Ms. Myers or MSMR to Jennifer might have prevented the devastation experienced by 2 households that watched their puppies die.

It will have additionally prompted Jennifer to test the canine for distemper at least 2 weeks sooner to see which of them to isolate.

Transport and Rescue Accept Duty, Make Modifications

Both Ms. Myers and Essential Road Mutt Rescue publicly apologized and accepted duty for their half on this tragedy.

Ms. Myers wrote the following on the CruzinPawz Rescue Transport Facebook web page final January:

“Due to my lack of communication and information of Distemper and this being my first time experiencing it (not an excuse) I’ve failed everybody. I take full duty for not communicating.“

In a submit on the CruzinPawz Rescue Transport FB web page, Terri Myers apologizes and takes duty for her half in the saga that led to the euthanization of 17 puppies and 1 adult canine. Image from CruzinPawz Rescue Transport.

Ms. Schroeder claimed she informed Ms. Myers concerning the distemper publicity earlier than they loaded the canine on the transport and blamed her for deciding to load the canine. Ms. Myers says no one advised her the canine had been exposed.

I couldn’t discover evidence to help both declare.

Ms. Myers made procedural modifications in response to the Rescues Oasis fiasco. For each transport, she now:

  • Emails a summary of what happened through the trip to all rescues with canine the transport.
  • Supplies updates relating to the canine’ well being (if wanted) for as much as Four weeks after a transport.
  • Not transports canine from Rescue Oasis.

Ms. Myers offered me with loads of info relating to this tragedy. I recognize her honesty regardless of the potential financial consequences to her enterprise.

MSMR additionally took duty for its part of the decision to put the uncovered canine on the transport. In a Fb publish from January, it stated:

“We would have NEVER put those puppies on (the) transport had we known (that they were infected). We take total fault on our wrongness of this and we should (have) held the puppies back.”

MSMR additionally stated it’s going to not undertake out canine “until they have been out of the shelter for at least 10 days.”

I’d favor they maintain a dog for at least 2 weeks before they’re obtainable for adoption but this can be a good step forward.

Neither MSMR or CruzinPawz appeared to know how contagious and lethal the distemper virus is until they experienced it firsthand.

Nobody should begin a rescue or transport for canine until they absolutely educate themselves relating to the varied illnesses and viruses that can threaten the canine in their care; additionally they should have procedures in place to attenuate the potential of exposing any of the canine in their care to them.

Rescue Oasis Says It Did Nothing Fallacious

Rescue Oasis is just not in any means liable for either Sadie Mae or Benji contracting distemper – each canine contracted it before arriving in Palmdale.

But the canine going to MSMR in all probability wouldn’t have been exposed to distemper if Rescue Oasis hadn’t put them in the identical room next to Simon.

And the canine going to Save-a-Mutt wouldn’t have been infected if the canine uncovered to distemper hadn’t been loaded on the transport.

Throughout our conversations, Ms. Schroeder accepted no duty for placing healthy canine subsequent to infected canine or loading the uncovered canine on the transport.

Kathleen Schroeder posted this message saying she closed Rescue Oasis last January though I’ve seen a textual content saying there are still canine there. I by no means noticed proof of a concerted effort to discredit her or Rescue Oasis by “narcissists, bullies, and slanderers” until she is speaking about people who revealed what happened to the 18 canine that have been euthanized.

Whereas no shelter or rescue is resistant to the distemper virus; their response is utterly inside their management.

Ms. Myers and MSMR responded by admitting their mistakes and making modifications to offer extra protection to the canine in their care.

Conversely, Ms. Schroeder made excuses, blamed others, and threatened lawsuits.

Not lengthy after that, she stated she closed Rescue Oasis.

Their website and Facebook pages disappeared, and I don’t see them anyplace on social media.

Some individuals have stated she’s still working Rescue Oasis however I haven’t seen any definitive proof.

If she continues to be operating Rescue Oasis I hope she put procedures in place to do a better job of stopping the spread of viruses and illnesses at the power.

Thank you Save-a-Mutt

In closing, I need to thank Jennifer at Save-a-Mutt.

I solely came upon concerning the euthanized canine because she posted about it on Fb.

Without her work behind the scenes, no one would have recognized concerning the concerning the distemper exposure at Rescue Oasis and how many canine and puppies it eventually killed.

And this story will educate dog house owners concerning the risks of distemper and (hopefully) give shelters and rescues the motivation to make sure they have correct procedures in place to stop/mitigate distemper contaminations at their amenities.

* Most important Road Mutt Rescue refused to offer any info to me for this submit “(d)ue to the ways you’ve misinformed people about us in the past.” I assume they meant this submit.

I found all of the information about MSMR from public posts on their Fb web page and screenshots of texts individuals sent me.

** Ms. Schroeder and I began corresponding shortly after I began scripting this piece. After a few month she stated her lawyer informed her to cease speaking with me. After that, I received info from texts individuals offered and public postings on her Fb web page.

She additionally stated she withheld info from me that might contradict what I wrote and make me look “very foolish.”

All the things I wrote is my opinion based mostly on the information I had. If anyone supplies verifiable proof that something I wrote is improper I’ll right it.