CLEVELAND — For Christa Cassis, her dog, Doof, is her world. She’ll do anything for him, even play outside on a cold, rainy Wednesday.

“He has a fun personality,” said Cassis. “He’s super playful. He’s fun to hang out with. I will come to this park and we will run around on everything.”

Cassis also owns her own dog training business, Koena K9. She boards and trains up to five dogs every four weeks. She said the mystery dog illness spreading across the county is worrisome.

“It’s a concern especially because I take care of other people’s pets,” said Cassis. “So, it’s a concern making sure I am keeping everybody else’s animals safe when they stay with me, too.”

Animal experts are calling the “mystery” illness “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease.” Cases have been reported on the West Coast, but now it’s made its way to the Midwest with reported cases in Illinois and Indiana. No cases have been reported in Ohio yet.

“This one though, they cannot pinpoint exactly what’s causing it, so that’s the big question mark right now,” said Allison Lash, Medical Director of the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Lash said the illness is similar to kennel cough but worse. Symptoms also include runny nose, sneezing and lack of energy.

“Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccines — the core vaccines — that are generically called the distemper, the five-way, and a vaccine called the Bordetella vaccine,” Lash added. “Those are important things to have.”

If your dog is sick, take your dog to the vet and avoid places like dog parks, pet stores, boarding facilities, and groomers. Lash said CAPL is always prepared to prevent infectious diseases from spreading in their facility.

“We take a lot of precautions and take a lot of care because we have constant high density of animals that are the same species, so you can have stuff that passes back and forth,” said Lash.

Back at the park, Cassis will continue keeping a close eye on her canine and her business.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t come,” said Cassis. “That will make it a lot more difficult, especially for the large boarding facilities with 100-plus dogs.”

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Autor Bryn Caswell

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