A puppy adopted from the Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society animal shelter last weekend tested positive for the canine parvovirus.
Symptoms were so severe the puppy had to be euthanized.
“After consultation with the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) on Monday morning, we imposed a temporary quarantine of the dog kennels,” said Edward Williams, Humane Society executive director.
No dogs are allowed to enter or leave the animal shelter for two weeks.
“Cats are unaffected by this virus, so we are still open for cat adoptions,” Williams explained.
The Animal Control Division will continue to issue warnings, and possibly citations, for dogs running at large in all areas except those designated by local zoning ordinances as agricultural.
Dogs involved in bite cases and requiring quarantine will be picked up and held in an area of the animal shelter that has shown no signs of contamination for the usual 10 days, as required by Georgia law.
Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog mainly through exposure to contaminated feces.
“It is also spread through contact with contaminated objects, such as hands, clothing, bedding or another dog’s coat,” Williams said.
Research shows that puppies under six months of age are most susceptible, but adult dogs also can be affected.
The most common symptoms include vomiting, mild to severe diarrhea (often bloody), loss of appetite, weakness, depression and dehydration. Young puppies who acquire parvovirus will often die without aggressive medical treatment.
“Your best course of action is to allow your veterinarian to administer an annual vaccination protocol (beginning at six weeks of age for puppies) that will include protection against the parvovirus, but vaccinations are also available through some local farm supply stores,” Williams said.
In accordance with standard animal shelter operating procedures, each animal is vaccinated upon admission to the facility.
If the animal has not been vaccinated previously, it can take up to two weeks before significant immunity to such viruses is achieved.
“Inevitably, parvovirus and other infectious diseases will be introduced into an open-admission shelter by its community’s animals from time to time. Puppies are at greatest risk, and their prognosis is worsened by concurrent infections with roundworms, other intestinal parasites, protozoa (such as coccidia), viruses and bacteria — all conditions we routinely see in dogs and puppies brought to the shelter,” the executive director explained.
No other dogs housed at the shelter have exhibited symptoms of parvovirus.
Because the facility currently houses more 130 dogs, including 13 litters of puppies, every precaution is being taken to ensure their safety and prevent the further spread of the virus.
The 180 Big Star Drive facility has been divided into several distinct, segregated zones, and different members of the staff have been designated to work in each zone to prevent cross-contamination.
“Every effort will be made to assess the health of each animal on a daily basis. Additional testing will be done as warranted. Cleaning protocols and strict biosecurity measures have been put in place,” Williams said.
Through the duration of the quarantine, all dogs will be given additional one-on-one time each day with a handler who will provide exercise and enrichment And as always, they will be well-fed and cared for.
Williams asked for the public’s patience.
“If you pick up a stray dog, please consider caring for it for a couple of weeks. If that is not possible, ask your friends and family if they would be willing to do so. Other nearby shelters and rescue groups may also be able to assist you,” Williams said.
For more information, call the animal shelter at 228-0613.
The shelter will be open to handle cat adoptions, animal control and to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.