Richmond County Animal Shelter reopens after second distemper outbreak

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Animal Shelter reopened Tuesday, a week later than scheduled and with new procedures designed to promote pet safety.

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

“All animals have been tested through Maddie’s Fund and (are) current on all vaccinations,” Land said Tuesday, referring to a philanthropic group whose stated mission is to “provide a healthy home or habitat for the 8 million dogs and cats who find themselves in a shelter or rescue organization.”

“The building has been disinfected and sanitized from top to bottom per protocol,” he said. Additionally, “no animal will be allowed to enter through the front doors if they are being turned in to the shelter.

“They will be assessed and vaccinated upon intake. (Then), if any animal appears to be sick, they will go into a quarantined area and be monitored.”

Land also said that those who wished to bring pets into the center to meet future adoptees would have to make sure their current pets were up to date on their vaccinations before entering the shelter.

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.

Richmond isn’t the only county to have difficulties with distemper.

The Anson County Animal Shelter reopened at the end of April after a distemper outbreak that forced it to euthanize 17 animals.

“Moving forward,” Director Maureen Lett told the Anson Record, “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.

By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

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

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