PAWS Tinley Park Temporarily Stops Taking In, Adopting Dogs

Mike Krauser
August 14, 2019 - 8:46 am
Dogs in kennel

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A pneumonia outbreak has prompted PAWS of Tinley Park to stop taking in and adopting out dogs.

The shelter is "temporarily closed for dog viewing and adoptions due to upper respiratory illness," PAWS said on its website.

The outbreak of mycoplasma pneumonia has killed eight dogs - an entire litter of puppies - and Terri Buckley, vice president of the shelter’s dog medical team said it may be more because the shelter lost a couple dogs before they determined the cause. 

“We’ve lost at least eight dogs that we’re aware of, but we also lost a couple before we knew what it was," Buckley said. “They died of pneumonia. Was it the mycoplasma pneumonia? We’re not sure because we didn’t do a nasal swab because we weren’t aware of it at the time.”

The loss has been devastating, Buckly told the Daily Southtown.

She said they cannot accept strays, noting if they were to take one in and it gets exposed, and the owner claims the animal and takes it to a dog park, more dogs could be exposed.

“To be on the safe side and to keep the community and animals safe, we are not doing adoptions and we are not taking in any stray animals, not even from Tinley Park,” she said. “We can’t take in strays. What if we take one in and then the owner comes to claim it and it’s been exposed? Then it gets taken to the dog park and exposes others.”

John Coyne, veterinarian and partner of Midwest Animal Hospital in Orland Park, has been treating the dogs at PAWS. He told the Daily Southtown, that mycoplasma bacteria is is a normal inhabitant of dog's respiratory system, but dogs, like puppies, with a weak immune system and stress, the bacteria can mutate into pneumonia. 

Coyne said animals with strong immune systems can fend off the pneumonia with strong support that includes antibiotics, fluids and nebulizing treatments.

Symptoms of mycoplasma pneumonia include high fever, cough, lethargy and sometimes vomiting.

The shelter closed about a week ago and will likely stayed closed another week while pretty intense disinfecting takes place, Coyne said. 

PAWS' website said that it remained open for cat adoptions and planned to post online once dogs are again available.