Animal Foundation warding off potentially dangerous outbreak 

By: - October 4, 2022 2:04 pm

(Photo courtesy Gina Desamito)

A week after issuing an urgent plea to the public to foster animals, the Animal Foundation announced it is suspending adoptions, fosters and transfers to rescues “out of an abundance of caution” because of dogs that “may have been exposed to a respiratory illness.” 

In a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday afternoon, TAF said it does not know whether the illness is Strep zoo, a “highly contagious and often deadly disease” characterized by fever, shortness of breath and bleeding from the nose, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. or something else.

Earlier Monday, Hearts Alive Village, an animal rescue organization, posted on social media that it was “contacted on Friday late afternoon, Sept 30 by The Animal Foundation that we had pulled a dog, Rosalia, on Sept 27th who was in a bungalow with a dog who had tested positive for Strep Zoo.”

“Testing will confirm what kind of illness they have and we are awaiting results,” TAF wrote on Facebook.

While TAF say no animals have been euthanized, the Current has learned a border collie named Bullock who tested positive for Strep zoo was euthanized last week, days after he was taken home by a foster.  

On Sept. 27, the day after Gina Desamito brought Bullock home to play with her new puppy, he began coughing, gagging, and “seemed like he was trying to throw up. He wouldn’t sit or lie down. He would just stand,” Desamito said in an email. “He seemed extremely uncomfortable, so we contacted the Animal Foundation.” 

TAF examined the dog, who by that time had “a yellow substance leaking from his nose,” Desamito says, took some swabs and said the dog may have kennel cough. 

When Desamito got home and carried the dog into her house “his mouth was dripping a lot of blood and his tongue looked like bacon. And he just dropped to the floor and started crying.” 

She took the dog to an emergency vet, who kept him overnight. The next morning Desamito called the Animal Foundation. 

“They just kept apologizing and saying that they misdiagnosed him,” she wrote. “They told us that he had been euthanized because he went into septic shock… and they didn’t expect things to turn so quickly as it did.”

Bullock also tested positive for pneumovirus, according to a report obtained by the Current from Desamito. She says a relative’s dog has now tested positive for pneumovirus, as well.  

“If you are fostering a dog for the Animal Foundation you MUST return that dog to the Animal Foundation,” says a sign on the door of the City of Henderson Animal Shelter. Henderson Animal Shelter will NOT accept foster dogs from the Animal Foundation.” 


“The public has not been informed of the risk and deserves transparency because people who tried to help these animals have put their own pets at risk,” says Gina Griesen of Nevada Voters for Animals. 

Strep zoo is commonly found in shelters that exceed their capacity for care, according to veterinary experts. 

“This is a truly terrifying dog disease,” Kristine Auerbach, shelter director of Pima Animal Care Center said in 2018. “Infected shelter dogs are often found in the morning, lying deceased in a pool of red after they ‘bleed out’ from their lungs. Often these dogs appear healthy just hours before dying. In the past, entire shelter populations have been culled because of Strep zoo.”

A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Agriculture says shelters have no obligation to inform the state veterinarian of a potential outbreak.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.