Dog parks close due to canine influenza concerns

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Dog lovers across Henry County are looking for alternate locations in which to exercise their pets for the next few weeks.

Three dog parks in the county are closed for 30 days due to a rising number of canine influenza virus cases which have recently surfaces in surrounding counties. While no such cases have yet been reported in Henry, the county’s Animal Care and Control Department wants to keep it that way.

The cities of Hampton, McDonough and Stockbridge have cooperated with county officials on this decision, which led to the temporary closing of the dog park at Mt. Carmel Park in Hampton as well as the ones at Alexander Park in McDonough and Clark Park in Stockbridge.

“A healthy animal is a happy animal,” said animal control officer Vince Farah. “It’s our responsibility to protect the county’s animals and by closing the public dog parks, and we are taking proactive steps in preventing the spread of this disease to our county pets. I urge pet owners to also use caution in other situations of socializing their pets, whether at a kennel, a groomer or at the vet’s office.”

According to the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association, canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs, and unique to the most recent outbreak is that it is not the same strain as the one seen nationwide. Although the disease is highly communicable, most dogs will recover quickly with supportive care. A veterinarian might prescribe medications, such as an antibiotic (to fight secondary infections) and/or a nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory (to reduce fever, swelling, pain). Dehydrated pets may need fluid therapy to restore and maintain hydration. Other medications or hospitalization may also be necessary for more severe cases.

The GVMA has made several recommendations on preventing the disease as well as treating the disease if a pet contracts canine influenza. More information and recommendations may be found at enza.

If no cases of canine influenza are reported during the 30-day closing period, the dog parks will then reopen, according to county officials.

Unrelated to the dog park decision, two cases of rabies were reported in the county last week.

Officials received a call July 13 that a raccoon was killed by three dogs on Clifford Court in Stockbridge. The next day they received a report about a raccoon fighting with three cats in the area of Rosser Road in McDonough. Both raccoons were tested at the Georgia Public Health Laboratory and the results were positive for rabies.

The Henry County Animal Care and Control Department has issued a 45-day rabies alert, as required by the Georgia Rabies Control Manual, for a half-mile area around both streets.