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WHS taking special precautions in Saukville and Milwaukee after two dogs test positive for “Strep Zoo” infection

Milwaukee – Today, the Wisconsin Humane Society confirmed that two dogs at their Ozaukee Campus have tested positive for Streptococcus equi subsp. Zooepidemicus (“Strep Zoo”).  One of the dogs had also been housed at the Milwaukee Campus, but WHS has no evidence of exposure at their Racine, Green Bay, or Door County Campuses. 

For dogs, Strep Zoo is a potentially lethal respiratory infection, but if caught in the early stages, is usually treatable with antibiotics.  It is believed to be spread through airborne exposure, contact with bodily fluids and contaminated surfaces. While rare, there is theoretical evidence that the illness could be transmitted to a human.  This is the first instance WHS has had in recent history with dogs testing positive for this pathogen.   

Immediate actions WHS is taking include:

  • Further testing. Any dogs in-shelter with symptoms of respiratory illness will be tested. It is likely that WHS will not have those results until next Monday given the time it takes to run the tests.  The two sick dogs who tested positive will be euthanized and have further confirmatory testing. WHS is investigating the source of the illness.
  • Limiting intake. A key step in stopping the illness is minimizing its opportunity to spread to new, unexposed dogs.  WHS is temporarily ceasing surrender intake from the public and redirecting them to the Racine or Green Bay Campuses until further notice. WHS is also temporarily halting incoming transfers from other shelters.
  • Reaching out to infectious disease experts. WHS veterinary staff is consulting with infectious disease experts at University of Wisconsin and other programs, who have experience with Strep Zoo in shelter settings.
  • Monitoring cats. Given the strict separation of dog and cat populations at WHS, the transmission risk between these species is low. WHS is not taking any special actions for cats at this time, but will continue to monitor cats and re-assess, if necessary. 

Strep Zoo is more likely to spread in shelter environments because of the volume and proximity of dogs to one another, but if your dog is showing any symptoms of respiratory illness, it is advisable to seek out veterinary attention. There is no vaccine to prevent Strep Zoo. Symptoms include: coughing, nasal discharge, vomiting, labored breathing, and coughing blood.

A video about the illness can be found here:

“We will continue to keep the public updated as we learn more, or if anything changes,” said Anne Reed, President & CEO of WHS. “We’re incredibly grateful to the community’s support of the animals in our care – it’s what makes it possible for us to respond quickly and effectively to situations like this.”

For more information, visit 


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About the Wisconsin Humane Society

The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) is the oldest and largest shelter in Wisconsin.  It was founded in 1879 and operates shelters in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Brown and Door Counties, as well as a spay/neuter clinic in West Allis.  The organization offers adoption services, educational programming, veterinary resources for animals from low-income households, retail stores, volunteer programs and dog training classes. The Milwaukee shelter also houses the state’s largest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. WHS is an independent nonprofit and receives no general government funding and is not part of any national umbrella group. For more information, please call (414) 264-6257 or visit


  • Wednesday, February 14, 2018
  • For immediate release