STOKES COUNTY, N.C. - County officials decided Tuesday to euthanize all dogs, nearly thirty, at the county animal shelter and all incoming dogs that do not have vaccination records due to a parvo outbreak.
"If you bring it here and it has no vaccination it will be euthanized," said Veterinarian Deborah Cowan and chairwoman of the Stokes County Animal Shelter Advisory Board.
Adoptions of dogs are temporarily limited to just those with vaccination records, which staff says are rarely shared by owners surrendering pets.
Cowan says parvo, a highly contagious and deadly virus to dogs is something the out-of-date shelter has battled with for many years due to the structure being inadequate.
"Because of the way this shelter is set up we cannot clean properly. You can't get it out of the environment and no matter how hard they try it's just not happening," Cowan said.
Modern animal shelters deal with parvo too, but are able to fight it thanks to updated construction that allows for proper cleaning and separate kennels that can quarantine incoming animals. Stokes County does not have an area to quarantine animals away from the kennels of adoptable animals.
"She was a happy dog wagging her tail," said Adam Mabeus who, five-day after adopting Roxie from the shelter, discovered she had parvo.
Mabeus says he contacted county officials on Monday who then decided to temporally stop all adoptions of dogs without vaccination records.
"It's unfortunate for the animals, but at the same time it's good that they are acknowledging it now and trying to take steps to remedy it," Mabeus said.
The temporary ban on adoptions of dogs does not affect cats. The adoption ban is expected to last until outdoor kennels arrive, which will allow staff to move dogs outside while the shelter is cleaned. Shelter advocates say it's only a temporary fix until a new shelter can be constructed.
Fundraisers are already under way for a new shelter that will cost around $400,000.
"We are begging, we are pleading, we've been getting down on our knees asking people to help," stated Cowan who says they need $40,000 right now to secure a discount on a new facility that could be up and running by 2015.
If you need to surrender a dog and it does not have vaccination records, shelter staff say they will ask owners to foster the animal until staff can find a home. If the owners can't keep the animal and are handed over to the staff it will be euthanized.
If a surrendered dog is up-to-date on its vaccination it will be put up for adoption. Staff are also reminding owners who may lose a pet to report it to them immediately as NC Law will only require they keep the animal for three days.