Anchorage animal shelter suspends dog intakes, adoptions after viral outbreak

the Anchorage Animal Care and Control Center
The Anchorage Animal Care and Control Center on Elmore Road. (Chris Klint/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage’s animal shelter has temporarily stopped accepting dogs after several animals tested positive for the highly contagious parvovirus.

Anchorage Animal Care and Control announced the intake suspension on its Facebook page after two dogs tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

“This includes owner surrenders, strays, and our night drop kennels,” said the post. “We are doing this to give our staff enough time to deep clean the facility and sanitize all kennels before allowing new dogs to enter them.”

Shelter spokesman Joel Jorgensen said Friday that a total of three dogs tested positive for parvo and had to be euthanized because the shelter does not have a designated quarantine area or staff to do 24-hour monitoring.

“It is not an easy decision to make as they were all under a year old, but it is for the safety and health of the other dogs in the shelter,” he said.

He said it will be at least two weeks before the shelter takes in dogs again.

“As far as time frame for accepting dogs, it will be a minimum of 14 days, that being said, if on day 8 or 9 we get another positive test, that means it will be another 14 days from that point,” he wrote in an email.

In the meantime, the shelter is encouraging people who find stray dogs to use social media to try to track down the owners, or websites to look up dog license tags or microchip numbers. Jorgensen said current owners looking to surrender their dogs should also use social media or

He said medical staff are currently evaluating dogs’ health at the shelter, and clearing them for adoption. By Friday, six dogs had been cleared and moved to an isolated part of the facility. 

Canine parvo is a highly contagious stomach and intestinal disease. According to the American Kennel Club, it spreads among dogs through contact with infected dogs, their feces or contaminated objects. Puppies are most susceptible from the ages of six weeks to six months, with several breeds including Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and Rottweilers also at elevated risk.

Symptoms of the virus in puppies include bloody diarrhea, vomiting and fever, as well as loss of appetite, weight loss and weakness. Vaccinations can prevent the virus entirely, with prompt veterinary care making infections typically survivable.

The Anchorage parvo outbreak follows sporadic reports of the disease from around the state. In September, the Mat-Su Borough’s animal shelter announced a brief closure for cleaning after an outbreak, with seven Juneau dogs infected earlier this month, according to radio station KINY.

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