Stray Rescue halts operations after several dogs die from distemper

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)- An animal shelter in downtown St. Louis says more than a dozen dogs have died because of a virus outbreak.

As of Monday morning, 27 dogs at the Stray Rescue of St. Louis had tested positive for distemper, including 17 who died and 10 others isolated or quarantined while being treated.

Dogs can be vaccinated against distemper. It is something the shelter recommends all pet owners do.

Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus and impacts dogs' nervous systems, breathing, and intestines. It is treatable, but not curable, and expensive.

The founder here says this outbreak could potentially bankrupt Stray Rescue. The executive director estimates costs to test, treat and care for their nearly 400 dogs total to run upwards of $100,000.

The shelter's founder believes raccoons infected with distemper around St. Louis are to blame.

"We vaccinate on intake, but the dogs we bring in have no immune system," said Grim. "Some of them probably eat on the dead raccoons."

Because of this outbreak, the shelter won't be taking in any new rescues for the next 30 days.

In the meantime, Grim and Stray Rescue are asking for your help. They accept financial donations on their website (, but they also need supplies like towels, bleach, laundry detergent, and of course, toys and treats for the dogs.

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