Mystery Illness Sweeps Shelter

Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 4:33pm

North Carolina animal shelter forced to euthanize 200 animals.

Hundreds of animals inside a North Carolina animal shelter are being euthanized due to a mystery illness.

Catawba County officials say they have no choice.

They need to sanitize the Catawba County Animal Shelter from top to bottom in hopes of killing whatever is killing the animals.

"It's gotten progressively worse," says animal services manager Jay Blatche.

Tests have not revealed the illness and they have to euthanize the 200 animals to prevent the illness from spreading to the thousands of animals that come through the doors every year.

Wednesday, the number of dogs and cats euthanized because of illness grew substantially.
"About 200," Blatche says. "It's happening as we speak."

Lab tests at two well-known animal virus labs haven't determined what's killing the animals.

Symptoms are high fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and then death comes quickly.

"Some animals it's two days, some four," Blatche says.

Almost every animal in the shelter was surrendered by an owner, hoping to find a new family.

"Some of them would have been adopted out, had they been healthy," Blatche says.

But now, those dogs and cats are no longer listed for adoption on the animal shelter's website.

That's so customers can't see the puppies and kittens' faces and get attached to them, like Blatche does.

"Every day," he says.

The animal shelter will be sanitized over the next two weeks to try and kill whatever is killing the animals.

"The ceilings, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, over the doors, door knobs, you name it and we're going to have to sanitize it," Blatche explains.

That sanitizing comes with bleach, detergent and tears.

"There have been some tears shed and there will be more tears shed, and I'm sure there will be a whole lot of nightmares for our staff," Blatche says.

The shelter is still taking dogs that bite people or might have rabies. They're housed in temporary shelters.

New surrenders won't be accepted until the shelter reopens on September 7 after the sanitizing is complete.

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