Shelter changes vaccination schedule

Published 9:25 pm Thursday, July 2, 2009

Animal control officers at the Suffolk Animal Shelter now will vaccinate animals against parvovirus and other diseases when the animals first enter the shelter, city officials announced this week.

The announcement follows an outbreak of canine parvovirus at the shelter last week that caused it to close its doors on Saturday. However, city spokeswoman Debbie George said that the new process already had been close to implementation anyway.

Virginia lawmakers passed a law in their last session that permits animal control officers to administer certain vaccines to animals in pounds and shelters. Therefore, the officers at the shelter now will be able to give a vaccine to each animal coming into the shelter when it is brought in. Previously, a veterinarian had to administer the vaccine during a weekly visit, George said.


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Each animal coming into the shelter now will receive a vaccine that protects the animal against parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and several other common animal illnesses, George said.

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 was closed Saturday 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.

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. 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.