Animal shelter closed to combat virus

Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Suffolk Animal Shelter is closed to the public while personnel address an outbreak of canine parvovirus, the city announced today.

During the closure, which is expected to last until Monday, July 6, no animals will be adopted from the facility, and partnerships with other local animal welfare organizations are being used to help reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter.

Shelter personnel found out last week that an animal adopted from the shelter became ill, and tests revealed that the dog had parvovirus. The shelter did not open Saturday as scheduled as a precautionary measure, and several dogs became sick that day. A total of 12 dogs tested positive for the virus and have been euthanized.

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Parvovirus is a highly infectious disease spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with feces or vomit. The virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea in many dogs, making the spread of the disease even easier.

There currently are 38 dogs at the animal shelter, said Debbie George, spokeswoman for the city. The shelter will continue taking in animals, but ones that are more susceptible to the virus — like puppies — will be kept in a different section of the shelter or go to foster homes.

Although there is a human form of parvovirus, the virus cannot be spread from dogs to humans or vice versa, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Since discovering the outbreak, animal shelter personnel have instituted an aggressive cleaning schedule to help combat the disease, and officials also met with the State Veterinarian’s Office to review the city’s plan. The state veterinarian agreed with the city’s actions.