'Yappy Hour' aimed at stopping dog flu

CARY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- As a deadly canine flu outbreak spreads in the southeast, the veterinarian at Mayfair Animal Hospital in Cary has been trying to raise awareness. He partnered up with the brewery next door, Fortnight Brewing, for a social event for people and their pets aimed at stopping the dog flu in its tracks.

They call it, "Yappy Hour"-- where the humans get their beers and the dogs do too; albeit a non-alcoholic, vitamin-packed doggie brew.

Julie and Kimmy Harvey's west highland terriers, "Sadie" and "Dylan" are regulars here. Their owners say keeping their dogs safe from canine influenza has been a major concern.

"It was and we got our girls vaccinated last Friday, Kimmy said."

"The second we heard about it climbing up the coast, we were like anything to keep them healthy," Julie added.

Canine influenza is not on every dog owner's radar. Chrissy Mancino was unaware of the virus and the outbreak until recently.

[I had never heard of dog flu] up until last week," Mancino said.

Dr. John Santilli created Yappy Hour to help get the word out about the dog flu outbreak. Currently, 10-12 cases have been confirmed in North Carolina, including 2 deaths; one fatal case involves a dog from Raleigh.

"It spreads dog to dog, on clothes, your dog dishes, leashes; and the problem is some dogs show no clinical signs," Dr. Santilli explained. "So, you don't know your dog may have the flu."

Santilli is encouraging every client to get their pup vaccinated. Reps from Merck Animal Health were here to advise dog owners about the pharmaceutical company's canine influenza vaccine.
"It's an injection, it's a killed vaccine; so you cannot get the flu from this vaccine, said Merck's Tracey Winfree. "And it's a dose of 2 series, 2 to 4 weeks apart."

For Kimmy Harvey, whether to vaccinate was a simple decision.

"For me, I get my flu shot every year, so why wouldn't I do it for my dog," Harvey said.

So far, all of the infected dogs have contracted the virus at a dog show or from a dog that was at a show. It's extremely contagious among dogs (humans cannot contract the virus from their pets). So, Dr. Santilli is advising clients to keep their dogs away from kennels, boarding houses, dog parks, etc. until they get the vaccination. Injections cost about $60.
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