TINLEY PARK, Ill. (FOX 32) - PAWS leaders in Tinley Park have decided not to take in any dogs for two weeks after a deadly pneumonia outbreak.
The infection has spread like wildfire through the shelter, causing the deaths of nine dogs.
"When you spend that much time caring for animals, it's like losing one of your own," said Terri Buckley, VP PAWS Animal Shelter. "So it's very hard. It's very hard on all the volunteers."
The heart-breaking loss of nine puppies to an upper-respiratory disease is one this no-kill shelter hasn't seen before.
"It's called microplasma pneumonia," said Buckley. "So the upper respiratory is actually turning into this microplasma pneumonia, and we're dealing with that. We're not familiar with it, so we're working really closely with our vets to try to get every animal healthy and adoptable."
Unlike puppies, older dogs' immune systems are typically strong enough to fight pneumonia with treatment. The staff is optimistic three other dogs that tested positive for it will make a full recovery.
"We do have some dogs that are still sick, but we have other dogs that were sick and are getting much better," said Buckley.
She believes the litter's mother may have been the initial carrier of the pneumonia.
"That was very sad," she said. "Very hard on all of us. They were only seven weeks old. We had them here for a couple weeks."
No other area shelters are reporting problems.
The shelter is expecting its medical bills to be double what they normally are because of this situation, so if you'd like to donate, click here.