Riverside Police Department is advising pet owners to prepare and protect their pets from the distemper virus.
RPD has seen and responded to an increase in cases of confirmed canine distemper virus found in raccoons after displaying abnormal neurologic signs.
The distemper virus affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous system of dogs. Symptoms can include ocular and nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and seizures. Death can occur from secondary pneumonia or non-responsive seizure activity.
Police urge pet owners to vaccinate their dogs and supervise dogs while outside, even in a fenced-in yard, to prevent contact with wild animals.
Chief Tom Weitzel stated, "It seems every year around this time we get a rise in calls about raccoons acting oddly and we respond to calls about raccoons that may be a danger to the public. Our policy allows us to put down animals that are suffering or pose a threat to public safety.”
Police will put the animals down and public works has been disposing of the carcasses when necessary.
"We’ve had a number of cases concerning raccoons with distemper in our jurisdiction," Weitzel said “If you see a sick raccoon that may be a threat to public safety, call the police.”
Precautions recommended by Animal and Rabies Control include:
- Keep pets vaccinated against core diseases and get additional vaccines based on the animal’s lifestyle. See your veterinarian about their recommendations for your pet. Some vaccines are required by law.
- Pet owners should check if the places they take their pets for socialization – like dog-friendly areas, training classes, grooming and boarding, require proof of vaccination. Communicable diseases are transmitted through close association with other animals.
- Make sure that your pet is vaccinated and that the pets involved are equally protected. Minimize social activities with your pets and pets of unknown vaccination or health history.
- Visit your veterinarian at least twice per year for health reviews including recommendations on vaccines and intestinal parasite checks. Animals that are most susceptible to the viruses are those that are immune-compromised by age or other illness.