The Murray County Animal Shelter is working on three days of deep cleaning and will no longer allow members of the public to visit the kennels unescorted after a parvo outbreak at the shelter earlier this week.
Director Diane Franklin said staff have had to euthanize 31 animals to stop the spread of the disease, and she’s begging people to vaccinate their pets so it doesn’t happen again.
According to pets.webmd.com, the canine parvovirus is “an acute, highly contagious disease of dogs” that causes vomiting, diarrhea, depression and often a high fever. Treatment, according to the website, requires “intensive veterinary management,” usually including hospitalization. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states on its website, www.aspca.org, that the disease is often fatal, even with treatment, and it can cause permanent heart problems even if the dog survives.
Franklin said her office reported the outbreak to the state Department of Agriculture as required by law and is following protocol for dealing with it. That included euthanizing several animals — some at her own discretion as a preventative measure — as well as three days of intensive cleaning to kill off the hardy virus, she said.
The animal shelter now has a system in which everyone who enters and exits the kennels will step into disinfectant to prevent contaminants spreading from their shoes, Franklin said. Members of the public will no longer be allowed in the kennel area without a staff member present.
In addition, unvaccinated dogs and puppies brought to the shelter will be separated from vaccinated canines, Franklin said. Once the shelter needs to make more room, the unvaccinated ones will be among the first to be considered for euthanizations, she said. Franklin said her office doesn’t have the resources or responsibility to vaccinate all the animals that come through, and she doesn’t want to risk infecting healthy animals or shipping a possible pet to a rescue operation where it could potentially spread the disease.
Franklin has a message for pet owners, including those who plan to give up their animals.
“Please vaccinate,” she said. “It wasn’t a happy day for me. I’ve not slept any. It has just bothered me tremendously.”
Dr. Emily Felker offers low-cost vaccines twice a week, according to the animal shelter. For an appointment, call (706) 695-8003.