Occupy SF dog disease outbreak adds to San Francisco's costs

The Police Department isn’t the only city agency enduring hefty costs related to the Occupy SF movement.

Animal experts have been dropping by the Justin Herman Plaza camp weekly to check on the conditions and health of dogs living there, and those efforts are adding to The City’s already-pricey tab to watch over the movement.

Rebecca Katz, director of Animal Care and Control, said she did not have a total cost breakdown for the veterinarian visits and vaccinations, but it’s in the thousands and “significant.” She did say it was lower than the cost of the police presence.

“We spend anywhere between two and four hours each time we go, providing vaccines, antibiotics and checking on the overall conditions,” Katz said. “And we’re a small agency with a tight budget.”

Last week, the San Francisco SPCA reported a parvovirus outbreak at the camp, with one confirmed case. Then on Monday, officials from the SPCA and Animal Care and Control found two more dogs with the highly contagious and deadly disease, according to the SPCA.

A fourth dog was suspected to have contracted parvo at Occupy SF, but it was found in Golden Gate Park on Tuesday.

SPCA and Animal Care and Control officials are concerned about the increasing number of cases found at the camp. Katz said free clinics and visits from veterinarians will continue as long as protesters are living there.

“They’re expanding,” Katz said. “And that’s definitely a concern. As it grows, more animals can come in.”

In addition to parvo, other dogs were observed to have symptoms of kennel cough — which if left untreated could turn into pneumonia — and giardia, a typically nonlethal bacterial disease that is often spread through stagnant water and fecal matter.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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