Two new parvo cases keep shelter closed

Published 9:55 pm Monday, July 6, 2009

The Suffolk Animal Shelter will remain closed to the public for an additional week after two more animals tested positive for parvovirus this weekend.

The shelter was originally closed June 27 after a puppy adopted from the shelter became sick. A dozen more animals tested positive for the highly contagious virus and were euthanized, but no more had tested positive until this weekend.

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.

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Animal shelter personnel have instituted an aggressive cleaning schedule since the outbreak, said city spokeswoman Debbie George. Each day, the dogs are removed, one at a time, from their cages and a bleach solution is used to clean each cage. The bleach is left to settle on the floor for at least 10 minutes, and the bowls, bowl holders and beds are cleaned with bleach. Floors in the main kennel area are being scrubbed with bleach solution, and the floors in the cat room, meeting room and observation room are being mopped with bleach solution. Staff at the shelter are stepping into bleach shoe baths between cleanings, as well as when entering and exiting the shelter.

Although parvovirus can survive outside in soil, the city has no plans to remove and replace the topsoil outside the shelter, George said.

The shelter was slated to reopen Monday after its weeklong closure; however, two additional dogs have tested positive for the virus. One animal was found dead; the second is not having any symptoms, and animal control personnel are monitoring its condition.

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.

People who are willing to help foster dogs that are brought to the shelter should contact the Suffolk Humane Society at 538-3030 or