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Minneapolis pet owner speaks out after dog flu death: "A surprise to all of us"

Minneapolis pet owner speaks out after dog flu death: "It happened fast"
Minneapolis pet owner speaks out after dog flu death: "It happened fast" 02:26

MINNEAPOLIS -- Canine influenza continues to spread in the community more than a month since the first signs of the virus closed multiple Humane Society locations.

As of Friday, at least 20 community cases have been confirmed in Anoka, Carver and Hennepin counties, though the state's board of animal health says it likely underrepresents how many dogs are truly sick.

"He had the best ears. They were long and didn't make sense on his head. We all just really loved him. He was goofy and I think he brought joy to all of our lives," Minneapolis resident Lucy Lloyd said.

For nine years, her dog Rooney captured the hearts of everyone he met. Lloyd and her husband are still coming to terms with his unforeseen death.

"I think that he was a surprise to all of us, as far as how fast it went poorly," Lloyd said.

They took their two dogs Rooney and Sawyer to day care on a Thursday. By Saturday, she says they had developed coughs and Rooney progressively got worse.

"The breathing was the alert that is was time to do something, it was time to intervene," she said.

The vet on Tuesday discovered he had pneumonia. He passed away the next day. Test results confirmed canine influenza a few days later.

The highest concentration of cases in Minneapolis are in Uptown and North Loop. Dog parks remain open, though many have signs warning pet owners about the risk of contracting canine influenza.

"Those high-risk situations again would be dog parks, boarding, dog day care, training facilities, anywhere we are going to have large numbers of dogs coming in contact with each other," Minnesota Board of Animal Health Senior Veterinarian Veronica Bartsch said.

Sawyer is recovering at home as he finishes a month-long isolation.

"It's really hard to watch him navigate his new life without his friend," Lloyd said.

She hopes dog owners take the virus seriously and follow precautions.

"Get your dog vaccinated if you can find the vaccine, we wish we would have. We also know that that's not maybe wanted or possible for everyone, so that's not the easiest answer. I think the easiest answer is figure out how to keep your dogs away from other dogs. I wouldn't have known until now to take those things seriously, because you can't know until you know," she said.

Most dogs have mild to moderate symptoms and recover within two to three weeks. Contact your vet if your pet develops symptoms like cough, fever, runny eyes or nose, shortness of breath or fatigue.

More information about canine influenza can be found by clicking here.

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