Shelter reopens after battling virus

Published 9:15 pm Monday, July 13, 2009

Two dogs got a new home Monday, but it was a journey getting them there.

Two weeks ago, the Suffolk Animal Control Shelter shut down after a puppy adopted from the shelter was diagnosed with parvovirus – an extremely deadly and contagious virus among dogs.

During the more than two weeks the shelter was closed, all adoptions of pets were suspended.

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“No animals were adopted out,” George said. “Some of the pets were highly adoptable, but we wanted to make sure we had a handle on the situation before we allowed any animal to leave the shelter.”

After more testing, animal control staff had to euthanize more than a dozen animals that had tested positive.

Since closing June 27, the staff has made several changes to the shelter’s operating procedures.

For example, animals will be vaccinated immediately when they are taken in, said Debbie George, city spokesperson. Additionally, litters of puppies will be sent to foster homes in the city before getting vaccinated at six-weeks old.

George said the city has been working with the Suffolk Humane Society to help recruit even more foster families in the city.

The animal shelter has also undergone more vigorous cleaning schedules, where dog cages, bed, bowls and bowl holders are scrubbed with a bleach solution.

The shelter was set to open last Monday, but two more dogs were tested positive for the parvovirus. Any animal brought to the shelter during this time was sent to a different section of the shelter, or was sent to another foster home.

Monday morning, the shelter officially reopened.

By that evening, two dogs had been adopted.

Anyone willing to help foster dogs that are brought to the shelter should contact the Suffolk Humane Society at 538-3030 or For more information regarding the shelter’s safety precautions should call, 514-7855.