52 dogs were put down at the the Franklin County Dog Shelter over the weekend. They are attempting to stop the spread of an outbreak of distemper, a deadly disease that attacks the dogs respiratory and nervous system.
The rest of the dogs at the shelter, which normally houses about 300 dogs, have all been quarantined for the next four to six weeks. The shelter will continue to operate, but only to take in strays. They have no pets available for adoption. No one can adopt any of the quarantined dogs.
As reported in The Columbus Dispatch:
The 52 dogs that were euthanized had either shown “severe clinical signs” of distemper or were determined to not be suitable for quarantine, Wilbers said. Those not suitable might have had other medical or behavioral problems that would have made quarantine inhumane, or they were too young to be in isolation. The shelter made the decision after consulting with a team of experts from Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the Capital Area Humane Society and Columbus Public Health.
They say that making the heartbreaking decision was necessary to keep distemper, an often-fatal airborne canine virus, from spreading throughout their facility and central Ohio.
“This was not an easy thing to do,” said Dr. Nellie Wilbers, a veterinarian who works for the shelter. “No one wants to euthanize the dogs that we have come to love.”
The first case of distemper was confirmed on September 3rd. Then two others dogs at the shelter showed signs of distemper. At that point they closed the shelter and ran tests on those two dogs.
The other dogs that were euthanized over the weekend weren’t tested for distemper. It was impractical to test every dog at the shelter before euthanizing or quarantining it because tests are costly and can sometimes produce “false positive” results, O’Quin said. It costs at least $100 to test one dog for distemper, she said.
“It’s very sad to look at euthanasia as an option, but in the long run, it will help bring this to a close and protect more animals,” O’Quin said.
A large group of animal-rights activists from Ohio protested outside the shelter on Sunday. They claimed that the shelter did not communicate their intentions or look for alternatives to euthanizing the dogs that were not confirmed to have distemper. They were also there to offer support for those affected by the dogs being put down, especially the shelter workers that had been caring for the dogs and then had to put them down.
Shelter officials said that counselors are available for shelter employees that need them.
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