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A Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center resident looks out of its cage last year.

SIERRA VISTA — More than 30 dogs have become infected with kennel cough at the Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center, and while the disease is a quick-spreading, highly-contagious nuisance, it’s not any more serious than the common cold, shelter staff said.

A press release put out Monday announced that 13 dogs at the Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center had been infected with kennel cough. As a result, volunteer dog walking at the facility, as well as viewing and adopting the canines, were out of the question.

Wednesday morning, kennel technician Phaydra Adams said just over 30 dogs were currently suffering with the persistent condition and all canines — including dogs that weren’t showing any symptoms of the illness — were being treated for it.

But what is kennel cough, and how do dogs catch it? Kennel cough is the common name of a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. With the right care though, symptoms typically remain mild and infected dogs are no longer contagious after about 10 days, shelter staff said.

“While cases of kennel cough are typically no worse than a common cold, it’s important that we limit exposure to keep our dogs healthy and get them ready for adoptions again as soon as we can,” Animal Control Supervisor Arleen Garcia said earlier this week. “We ask that owners hold off on turning in any dogs into the shelter for the next two weeks to help conserve kennel space while large dog adoptions are suspended.”

Adams said if one dog begins to cough, it’s only a matter of time before several dogs follow suit.

“It spreads like wildfire,” Adams said. “They can usually catch it from a stray dog that comes in. It’s just like the common cold.”

Dr. David Bone, a veterinarian at Sierra Animal Hospital, said the condition is caused by a rod-shaped bacteria called bordetella bronchiseptica. He said the latter normally occurs when a large number of animals are contained in a confined space such as a shelter, a grooming facility, and even a veterinary hospital. It can cause infectious bronchitis in dogs and other animals, but rarely infects humans.

If not cared for properly however, “other diseases can play a role,” Bone said.

“It’s not lethal, but it can lead to secondary pneumonia,” Bone said.

For now, all the dogs at the animal care center are being treated for the illness with antibiotics. The shelter has a quarantine area, but because so many canines are displaying symptoms, Adams said they are all staying in their respective kennels and being treated there. Dog adoptions have been suspended for the next two weeks until staff is sure the kennel cough has been eliminated.

Speaking of treatment, the shelter also is requesting donations of pill pockets so they can give the dogs the antibiotics needed for kennel cough. Pill pockets are soft, gooey chunks that can hold and hide a pill for fussy canines who won’t swallow one. They come in a couple of flavors and can be purchased in the pet sections of most grocery stores or pet supply shops.

Anyone with questions concerning kennel cough, adoptions, or the donation of pill pockets, can call 520-459-4151.

The Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center is at 6799 E. Highway 90.

They are open Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.