Last year, Carol Piazzo lobbied for the Pennsylvania SPCA to take over city animal shelters after her dog was accidentally put to sleep by Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association, the agency that oversaw Philadelphia's animal shelters at the time.
She now says that she regrets ever doing so.
Piazzo's daughter Laura, who asked that her last name not be printed, said that she brought her dog to the PSPCA's shelter yesterday for a previously scheduled shot only to find a "panicked" atmosphere at the facility.
The shelter, on Erie Avenue near B Street, was preparing to enter into a quarantine, which went into effect at noon, due to an outbreak that has killed six dogs this week from what is believed to be canine influenza, said Kim Wolf, a spokeswoman for the PSPCA.
Another shelter run by the Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) was quarantined yesterday, she said.
Canine flu has yet to be confirmed as the cause of these deaths, but Rachel Lee, the medical director of PSPCA, said that the dogs had exhibited severe symptoms characteristic of the respiratory infection. Results of diagnostic tests are expected to be ready by Thursday.
"We cannot confirm that it is canine influenza yet," said Lee. "But we are treating it as if it is, at this point."
This includes following the "extreme quarantine protocol," as Lee called it, with the shutting of the PSPCA facility on Erie Avenue and the ACCT facility on Hunting Park Avenue near Front Street, where one dog showed symptoms before dying Wednesday.
At the time, the death was deemed an isolated incident, but officials decided to quarantine the facilities after five more dogs exhibited the same symptoms before dying, Lee said.
It's not clear whether other dogs have become ill. Efforts to prevent the infection, which displays symptoms much like those of influenza affecting humans, include ensuring proper diet and hydration, Lee said.
Despite the impending quarantine, the PSPCA still took in Laura's dog, Patton, for his vaccinations, saying that she would be the last customer.
They then sent her and her dog home, advising her to bring the dog back if it showed symptoms.
Piazzo and her daughter contend that the shelters could have done more to prevent the spread of the highly contagious infection.
"This should have never happened," Piazzo said. *