PetSmart closed 1 Chicago-area PetsHotel because of canine flu and plans to close 2 more

Associated Press

PetSmart has closed a Chicago-area boarding center to contain the spread of the canine flu virus, and says it will close two other locations.

The company said transferred all of the dogs out of a PetsHotel in Lincoln Park, asking owners to pick up their dogs if they were able and transferring the remaining dogs to locations in Evanston and the South Loop. PetSmart is disinfecting the Lincoln Park location and plans to reopen it on Sunday.

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The company said it is not taking new reservations for dogs at the other two locations and will close them for disinfection once the current occupants leave.

The Phoenix-based company said Thursday that the dogs transferred will be monitored and medical treatment will be sought if they show symptoms of infection, including cough, runny nose, and fever. Dogs that appear to be infected are being kept away from healthy dogs, and PetSmart said the separate wings of each facility have separate ventilation systems.

All three locations can hold more than 100 dogs. The closures don't affect facilities for cats because they are not susceptible to infection by the canine influenza virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the flu virus was first observed in dogs about a decade ago. About 80 percent of infections are mild and it is rarely fatal. The virus spreads through contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects, and the agency advises that pet owners should clean clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands after exposure to dogs showing signs of infection. Vaccines are available, and treatment can include medication and fluids.

PetSmart Inc. runs a total of 202 PetsHotels and 1,404 pet stores.