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Expert Says Dogs May Jump To Judgments

Expert Says Dogs May Jump To JudgmentsWith a new strain of canine influenza striking animals in some kennels and shelters, two veterinary experts associated with Tufts have advice for pet owners who are planning on boarding their dogs during the holiday season.

No. Grafton, Mass. [11.09.05] As the holiday season creeps closer and pet owners with travel plans scramble to reserve kennel space for their dogs, a new type of canine flu that has cropped up in shelters, kennels and racetracks has some people worried. But a Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine overseer and lecturer said that people who are planning to board their pets this winter have no need to panic.

"There's no reason to suspect we're going to have an epidemic," Brian Holub, who teaches a Problem-Based Learning course at Tufts' Cummings School, told the Lowell Sun. "But we shouldn't just shrug our shoulders when our pets cough now, and maybe it's a little more important to get a professional evaluation. We do have to warn clients that it's possible, and we may see a caseload here in New England."

Tufts University trustee and Cummings School overseer David McGrath III, who owns and operates several veterinary clinics and animal hospitals in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, agrees with Holub that this new strain of canine influenza is no cause for alarm.

"We've gotten a number of questions because everybody's on the Internet, but there are no real worries in this area at all," McGrath told the Sun. The 1986 Cummings School graduate added that if the illness does strike animals at his kennels, he has an action plan.

"If it becomes an issue...the preventative measure is isolation, keeping sick animals separated from well animals," McGrath said.

Despite pet owners' concerns about the flu, McGrath told the newspaper that he does not expect the boarding business at any of his facilities to experience a decline this season. In fact, according to the Sun, McGrath's Wignall Animal Hospital in Dracut, Mass., reported that kennel reservations are 20 percent ahead of where they were last year at this time.

"People have to go about their lives," added Holub, who owns Countryside Veterinary Hospital in Chelmsford, Mass. "You have to keep it in perspective."

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