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N. Hempstead vaccinating dogs in its shelter

The Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter is now able to vaccinate dogs against the highly contagious canine influenza virus.

The Petfinder.com Foundation awarded a grant for nearly 400 doses of the vaccine to The Shelter Connection, a nonprofit that works with the town to promote adoption of shelter dogs.

The doses cost as much as $10 each, putting them out of reach for many shelters, said Robert Slifkin, president of the The Shelter Connection. The grant will cover a year's worth of vaccinations for shelter dogs, he said.

Canine influenza virus is relatively new and most dogs have not built up an immunity. Dogs can contract the disease by being exposed to other sickened dogs or from playing with toys or drinking water used by other dogs.

"Canine flu can be a real problem for shelters, where one sick dog can cause an outbreak through an entire facility," said Liz Neuschatz, director of Petfinder.com Foundation.

The grant is part of a Petfinder initiative to protect dogs in at-risk communities.

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