05/06/12 — Animal shelter ready to reopen

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Animal shelter ready to reopen

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 6, 2012 1:50 AM

The Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center, which has been closed since mid-April after an outbreak of canine distemper, will reopen Monday at 10 a.m.

The outbreak of the fatal and highly contagious viral disease was traced to eight puppies that were brought into the shelter-- three died from distemper and five were euthanized.

Approximately 12 dogs were euthanized during the first week the shelter was closed because they exhibited symptoms of distemper. Since that time, no other dogs have exhibited any distemper symptoms.

"Over the past three weeks, we have been deep-cleaning the center every day," said Vicki Falconer, county animal control director. "We cleaned from ceiling to floor multiple times daily with several cleaning compounds, including bleach and a veterinarian hospital cleaner."

Mrs. Falconer said she is confident the shelter is now clean and disease-free.

The center uses the same cleaning procedure in its everyday operations, but doesn't repeat it as often during normal business hours, she said.

Canine distemper attacks a dog's tonsils and lymph nodes and then the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. It does not affect cats. There is no known cure. Newborn puppies are especially susceptible to the disease. Cats are not affected by canine distemper.

"Distemper is a problem throughout the state because people do not vaccinate their dogs," Mrs. Falconer said.

Staff members at the center always follow strict protocols to minimize potential outbreaks, including administering distemper vaccinations upon intake, she said. However, if an animal is already infected, but is not exhibiting symptoms, a vaccination is not effective.

In addition, the center will continue to monitor all animals coming into the building and quarantining any animal that exhibits a disease of any sort, she said.

During the closure the center did not accept dogs from pet owners and no adoptions were made from the center. However, the staff continued to pick up strays.

The disease spreads through aerosol droplets and through contact with infected bodily fluids including nasal and ocular secretions, feces and urine from six to 22 days after exposure, she said. It can also be spread by food and water contaminated with these fluids. The virus is destroyed in the environment by routine cleaning with disinfectants, detergents or drying. It does not survive in the environment for more than a few hours at room temperature, but can survive for a few weeks in shady environments.

"We still have some wonderful animals available for adoption," Mrs. Falconer said. "We have about 65 dogs and around 30 cats. There is no animal sick or unhealthy in our building."

Anyone older than 18 can adopt a pet from the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center. People do not need to be a Wayne County resident. Any cat or dog adopted from the center must be spayed or neutered by a veterinarian.

To adopt a pet:

* Visit the shelter during business hours.

* Select an animal.

* Complete the adoption application.

* Complete the brief paperwork.

* Pay the adoption fee of $65 for female animals and $50 for male animals.

The center, located at 1600 Clingman St., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday.