Tinley Park PAWS reopens a month after dog flu outbreak

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CHICAGO -- Last month pet owners across the Midwest worried as the region was in the grips of a canine flu outbreak. Now, a sign says it all: "We are flu free."

One dog, Trixie, is back to her old energetic self, one month after coming down with canine flu at a Tinley Park shelter. She found a new home in the arms of Valarie Davis.

“She was negative two weeks ago," Davis said Saturday.

At one point, 34 of the 35 dogs at the shelter all had the flu.

“It's amazing to me that all the dogs caught it,” said Davis.

The flu forced the People's Animal Welfare Society, better known as "PAWS," to temporarily close its doors.

“The more that the animals were in contact with other animals, the more contagious it was," said John Greenan, director of PAWS.

Greenan said the virus took a toll.

“We ended up unfortunately losing a couple of animals to the epidemic, but we can't thank our volunteers enough. Our volunteers are the backbone of the shelter,” Greenan said.

At the height of the outbreak, more than one thousand dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana tested positive for the virus.

The disease causes persistent cough, runny nose and fever. Doctor John Coyne of Midwest Animal Hospital cared for all of the dogs at PAWS in Tinley Park.

“Some of them had to have oxygen therapy, some of them had to be nebulized; we would switch back-and-forth with intravenous and oral antibiotics until we found something was working,” Coyne said. “Every case was individual.”

Coyne recommends all pet owners get required immunizations for their animals. On Saturday, PAWS re-opened, and the dogs there are once again finding happy -- and healthy -- homes.

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