What first appeared to be a death sentence for nearly 100 puppies, dogs and cats at the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter has a happier ending.
By early Thursday afternoon, 40 dogs had been cleared to be put up for adoption as soon as possible, 52 more will be held for the next two weeks and four will be euthanized. The dogs were checked out by veterinarians following an emergency meeting Thursday morning of the board that oversees the shelter.
The shelter shut its doors on Wednesday when two dogs were found to have distemper. It’s a viral disease that is usually controlled through a vaccine. But because many pets who end up the shelter have never received their shots, they are susceptible.
The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association initially agreed with the state Department of Agriculture’s recommendation of putting down all the animals at the shelter and to quarantine the building for three weeks for a thorough cleaning.
Thursday morning’s meeting was very emotional.
One shelter worker said the board misrepresented how many animals had been put down Wednesday in a post on Facebook. The message read 5 cats and 6 puppies had to be euthanized.
“I know that there were more than five cats put to sleep [Wednesday]. I saw them! I saw them in the back! I saw Dale throwing them in the furnace! I’m sorry but I’m not going to hold my tongue. There was a trash can full of cats!”
Shelter executive director Donna Clark explained there were several feral cats put down on Wednesday along with the felines with distemper.
Several members of the board were highly upset with posts on Facebook accusing the shelter of unsanitary conditions causing the distemper outbreak.
Karen Porter, a shelter worker for more than 20-years, says that’s just not the case.
“We don’t accept responsibility for what has occurred. It’s the public’s fault,” Porter said. “If they’d take care of what they had they wouldn’t have this problem.”
Several area vets attended the meeting and suggested that some of the animals could be saved, those that already had been vaccinated for distemper.
“These animals who have been here for months, they’re immune. There’s no point in putting those animals to sleep. We can certainly save those animals,” said Dr. Lynn Frye, a retired veterinarian.
The board voted to have vets assess all animals and see how many could be saved
Terry Smith, who works with animal rescue groups, says there’s help out there to relocate those dogs.
“I’m really certain that a lot of the rescue [groups] that I work with will offer to help in any way they can,” Smith said. “And if there are some dogs that are cleared, those rescue [groups] can pull those dogs and we can try and move some animals and make some space.”
You can see the dogs up for adoption on the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association Facebook page.