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Putnam shelter prepared for distemper outbreaks

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the new Putnam County animal shelter opens next year, the state-of-the-art facility will help protect animals from getting diseases, according to Jon Davis, Putnam's chief humane officer.

While the Kanawha County animal shelter was dealing last week with an outbreak of distemper, a contagious viral infection, Donna Clark, director of Kanawha's shelter said that Putnam County's plan sounds "wonderful."

The $2.3 million facility on W.Va. 62 near the Winfield Bridge will allow sick and healthy animals to be separated, Davis said.

"We went over the plans for about a year, tweaking them until we got them exactly the way we want. It will be a state-of-the-art facility," he said.

The problem at the Kanawha County shelter, which could have lead to a mass euthanasia, is the close quarters where sick animals are housed, according to Clark. When the shelter needs to quarantine a sick animal, the animal is never properly isolated, she said.

"[Cages] are sectioned off, 10 in each area, but we have 10 on one side and 10 on another, facing each other," Clark said. "If one has kennel cough or distemper and sneezes, they are blowing it all over everybody else."

At the Putnam shelter, "no animal will be facing each other," Davis said.

"The walls will be 5- to 6-feet-high in each [aisle] so dogs won't see the one beside them and there's no way for them to get up in each other's faces."

Also, the Putnam shelter will have an entrance for new dogs coming to the shelter that's separate from the exit for pets that are leaving once they are adopted.

Incoming stray animals will be isolated for around five days and observed before leaving that area and being put up for adoption, according to Davis.

"That area will also have a separate circulation system," he said.

New animals to the shelter won't have "any contact at all" with those already determined healthy, Davis said.

"Hopefully doing it that way will cut back on any chance of a disease outbreak."       

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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