SYLVANIA, Ohio (WTVG) - The doggie playgrounds are empty and the dogs that are left are being separated and closely monitored at Pups Paradise in Sylvania.
"We've got to do what's safe for our dogs," Ron Deleeuw, owner, Pups Paradise, said.
Over the last week and a half, several dogs who have been boarded or played at the daycare have started showing symptoms of the canine flu, a dangerous and highly contagious virus.
"We went from one or two phone calls on Tuesday to 30 to 40 the following weekend," Deleeuw said. "It spread fast."
Deleeuw says 23 dogs between his locations in Perrysburg and Sylvania have gotten sick. At first, he says, they thought some dogs had kennel cough, a fairly common ailment among canines. But area veterinarians believe it was likely the flu.
As difficult as it was, Deleeuw knew he needed to temporarily close the doors.
"All we can do, really, is put a stop to it," he said. "Let our clients know what we knew, when we knew it and then we're going to disinfect."
"This has been the scary thing that we've worried about for a year and a half since the outbreak in Chicago," Dr. Bob Esplin, veterinarian at SylvaniaVET said.
Dr. Esplin says they haven't had any cases at SylvaniaVET, but they're ready just in case.
"When we have dogs that have been in high exposure environments, we are going to examine those dogs in the parking lot," he said. "We're going to gown up, wear gloves and masks, and we're going to disinfect in between every patient because we do not want to bring that virus into the facility."
He says the H3N2 strain is a respiratory virus that causes bronchial pneumonia in about 30 percent of dogs, which can lead to permanent lung damage. That's why he stresses the importance of the vaccine.
"I think that all of a sudden now, it's going to be like shutting the barn door after the horses are gone," he says. "But everybody will start recommending it and everybody will start requiring it."
Pups Paradise has already made the call, making the flu vaccine mandatory for every dog that comes through the door.
"If we don't make this firm, quick change in policy and procedure, then we truly won't get a handle on it," Deleeuw said. "We're encouraging other people in the community to follow our lead."
If your dog has been around other dogs, vet's say owners should watch for coughs accompanied by a fever, runny eyes and noses, and a loss of appetite. Of course, if you have questions or concerns, you should call your veterinarian's office.
In the meantime, both Pups Paradise locations will be closed for cleaning. The goal is to be back to business as usual this weekend.
Any dogs that are still there will be picked up by Wednesday. All of them are will remain isolated and have their temperatures taken twice a day until they get home. At the first sign of the flu, the staff will take the dog to the emergency vet.