CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter's four phone lines, front door and website traffic were so busy Friday the shelter's director said she couldn't believe the response from the public.
Families and adults adopted 27 dogs and puppies Friday during the shelter's adopt-a-thon, said Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter Director Donna Clark. Twenty dogs had been adopted on Thursday.
The shelter is attempting to save as many dogs as possible after an outbreak of distemper was discovered Wednesday.
The shelter will remain closed for two weeks, except for the adopt-a-thon hours it hosted Friday and a three-hour period slated for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Although adoptions were supposed to end at 4 p.m. Friday, Clark said there was still a line of people waiting to adopt at 4:15 p.m.
"It's been wild here Saturday," Clark said. "I just can't believe the response. It makes you wonder how did we get to this? Where have all these people been?"
Four veterinarians examined all 96 dogs at the shelter Thursday to determine which are healthy and which might need to be put to sleep.
On Thursday, about 40 dogs were judged healthy for immediate adoption, Clark said.
But four dogs were found to be sick and were euthanized. The other 52 -- mostly stray dogs that just arrived at the shelter -- will be held in quarantine for observation.
Clark said a number of those stray dogs that were not up for adoption on Thursday got new homes on Friday because veterinarians said they are healthy.
On the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter's Facebook page -- where the shelter shares pictures and information about adoptable dogs -- Kristen Sixx of Charleston wrote on a photo of a young collie mix, "I adopted him today. He is a very sweet dog."
Three others commented on her post, thanking her for adopting the dog.
Clark said there will be even more dogs available for adoption Saturday as more stray dogs are deemed healthy.
People should call the shelter in advance at 304-342-1576 after they choose a dog from the website.
Some of the dogs have had their adoption fees paid for -- either in full or a portion of the fee -- by people who "couldn't take a dog in [but who] came in and paid the fee for someone else," Clark said.
The lone concern that Clark has is for those who did adopt a dog for free because of someone else's generosity. She wants to know that those dogs are still taken care of once they leave the shelter.
"One of the problems is people get them and they're free, but you have to think: the dogs are free today but they need other things. They need follow-up shots and hopefully people will do that," Clark said.
West Virginia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass called on pet owners to contact their veterinarians to make sure their animals' vaccinations are up to date.
"Pet vaccinations protect not only your animals, but the animals around them as well. With vaccination, these diseases are totally preventable," Douglass said in a statement issued Friday. "While it's impossible to totally control the situation in a shelter, the more animals that are vaccinated, the lower the chance for the type of situation we're now seeing in Kanawha County."
Jewell Plumley, WVDA state veterinarian, said in a statement there was a distemper outbreak at the Cabell County shelter over the summer and at the Mercer County shelter in the spring. In September, the Preston County Animal Shelter was shut down for more than a week after several puppies arrived infected with parvovirus. All other shelter dogs were vaccinated.
State law requires that dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies every three years. Although it's not in the state code, Plumley also recommends "core" vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, parainfluenza and coronavirus.
"These are just my blanket recommendations. People should have their pets examined by a private veterinarian who can then make the best vaccination recommendations," Plumley said in a statement.
Plumley said she gave the Kanawha shelter information about distemper, bio-security measures they can take and cleaning and disinfecting procedures they should follow. She also suggested equipment they could purchase to quickly test incoming animals for disease.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.