So You Think We Are Overly Cautious? Nope. Here’s One Reason Why

When Texas began reeling from Hurricane Harvey and mass evacuations of pets began, my blood chilled; because at the time of this hurricane, Houston was at the start of what appeared to be a rather serious distemper outbreak. There also had been some reports of Canine Influenza. In the urgency of evacuation – not just of people with their own dogs but dogs and cats that had been abandoned & lost and were being evacuated and re-homed by various rescues – a wave of contagious animals began spreading across the country. At Hydrant Club we implemented an even more strict adherence to our already stringent guidelines – turning away several requests for daycare and boarding services from people who were visiting Las Vegas from Texas or who had passed through Texas.

If people wonder why we are so strict, you merely need to read THIS ARTICLE about a devastatingly sad situation that has arisen in Vermont, where a large number of evacuated animals had been found new homes.

The other day someone applied for their dog to join our Club.  Their completed application triggered our auto-responder detailing the various and sundry health requirements we have for entry. At Hydrant Club we mandate proof of current health records for the vaccines/fecal test be sent before we schedule the dog’s evaluation. So, before a dog even passes through our gates, we’ve insured they are up to date.

This part of the process alone differentiates us from many other facilities. In the research we’ve done, many facilities ask folks to bring the health records with them when they bring a dog for the first time. We used to do this. We found in about 45% of the cases, people would show up with a vaccine overdue, or having just been administered that morning or day before (we also require a 5-7 day waiting period after a dog has received vaccines – boosters or otherwise – before exposing them to our pup population). To avoid turning folks away at the door, we began requiring the records be sent in advance so as to not waste anyone’s time – least of all our own.

Finally, and here is where we get some push back, is the extensive list of vaccines we require for a dog to access our facility for any services whatsoever.

Most dog facilities require four basics: Rabies (required by law in most states), Bordetella (aka kennel cough), Distemper and Parvo. The latter two are often administered in a combination shot. Depending on the region in which you live, heart worm as well as flea/tick prevention may also be required. Although most veterinarians in the Las Vegas area do not recommend any of those last three to their clients, we require them at Hydrant Club due to the extensive amount of travel across the border in the California that many of our clients do.

On July 1 of this year we began also requiring Canine Influenza as well as Leptospirosis. (As a side note: Leptospirosis also is “zoonotic”, which means it can transmit from dogs to humans.) While there are not “outbreaks” of either in our immediate area, there have been outbreaks of both in neighboring states. Again, because of the “drive through” nature of Las Vegas, as well as our clients often traveling themselves, we began considering these vaccines when news of outbreaks began to surface last spring. We conferred with the small network of veterinarians with which we engage regularly to ask their opinion. Across the board, all agreed that erring on the side of caution was a good idea.

So we did.

We’ve had several folks whose dogs cannot be vaccinated for one thing or another due to age, illness or allergy. In cases of health risk to a dog, we do allow owners to provide a “titer test” result showing that the dog has sufficient immunity.  We require that it be provided along with a note from the vet detailing the health condition the dog that prevents it having a particular vaccine.

Bottom line:

  • If you have a pet and your pet leaves your home and goes to any public spaces, make sure they are fully vaccinated – this includes public dog parks, airports or other transit terminals, daycare/boarding facilities or staying with any home-based dog care professional that has had other dogs in their home.
  • Before allowing your dog to interact with any dog that is not known to you, make sure you find out for sure the dog has been fully vaccinated and is healthy; and if you are unable to make that determination, do not let your dog interact with that dog.
  • If you find a stray or opt to take a dog in from a rescue or shelter (which we highly encourage) you should plan to isolate that dog for a minimum of a week to 10 days, get it fully tested and get it fully vaccinated against all possible illnesses as noted above.
  • You also should insure you do a comprehensive fecal test, making sure to test for all ova & parasites including giardia. Just having a dog dewormed does not mean all parasites have been eradicated. Most rescues will deworm a dog by default but rarely do a follow-up test to insure all parasites have been eradicated.