Richmond County Animal Shelter remains closed another week following distemper outbreak

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Animal Shelter did not reopen as scheduled Tuesday, delaying the move for a week.

County Manager Bryan Land said in an email Tuesday that “according to our Director, we are targeting a reopening on the 19th.”

Shelter Director Bonnie Wilde did not return a telephone call for comment, but a shelter employee confirmed the new opening date.

The shelter has closed twice this year as the result of a distemper outbreak brought in from outside the county. The first time, it closed voluntarily from May 3-15. It closed again in late May, Land said at the time, on the advice of “our vet of record and state inspector.”

After both closings, Land advised Richmond County pet owners “to have their animals vaccinated annually” and reiterated that the distemper “was brought into the shelter. It did not start at our facility.”

Shelter workers were making sure all animals were vaccinated, he said.

Distemper outbreaks tend to occur during hot, muggy months, when animals are outside and exposed to other animals that may sneeze or cough on them, transmitting the distemper virus through the air. Wild animals such as raccoons carry the virus and can transfer it to domesticated animals.

A dog that develops canine distemper shows signs of the disease almost immediately: sneezing, coughing, and mucus running from the eyes and nose. Fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting or diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite also are symptoms.

Even dogs that recover from a case of distemper may experience lifelong issues such as seizures or other nervous-system disorders.

The Anson County Animal Shelter reopened a month ago after a distemper outbreak that forced it to euthanize 17 animals.

Working with the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the shelter was able to save 37 animals through testing and resulting inoculations, Director Maureen Lett told the Anson Record.

“Moving forward,” she said then, “the Anson County shelter will be vaccinating all dogs against distemper the day they enter the shelter.”

The only vaccine North Carolina requires be given to pets is rabies, although several others are recommended — distemper among them — especially if a dog or cat will not spend all of its time indoors.

Veterinarians recommend that dogs receive regularly scheduled vaccines against canine distemper, canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, parainfluenza and Bordetella. Some vaccines, such as versions of DAPP, guard against several diseases at once.

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Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]