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LENOIR, NC (WBTV) - The Caldwell County Animal Control has received an answer to the mystery illness affecting dogs at the facility. Test results released by the North Carolina state lab confirm the cause is K-9 Distemper.
As of Monday, March 21, 26 dogs have had to be euthanized due to the severe illness. Eighteen dogs were put down last week. An additional eight dogs were put down this past weekend after they started showing symptoms while in quarantine.
"Veterinarians recommended that any animals that we are not required to keep be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease," said Greg Green, Director of Animal Control. Since the recommendation, four dogs have been euthanized, bringing the total number of dogs put down at 26. Two dogs remain at the shelter under court order.
Officials closed the shelter on Wednesday, March 16. Animal shelter staff will continue to sanitized the shelter by pressure washing the entire facility using Clorox and another sanitation product. The shelter will remain closed until further notice.
Symptoms of the illness include drooling, neurological problems, and seizures. The illness, however, does not appear to affect cats.
"We were able to release two dogs back to their owners because they had been previously vaccinated against distemper and were showing no signs of the illness," said Greene.
Dr. Dan Jones of the Lenoir Veterinary Hospital said hospital staff notified animal control about the illness early last week after examining two sick dogs that were recently adopted from the facility.
Animals currently housed at the shelter are being quarantined to one area and will remain there until the situation is resolved.
"Please keep your dogs and cats contained, as we will not be able to respond to calls for pick up of strays. If someone is missing a pet, we will still certainly allow them into the shelter to see if their pet is here, but other than that, we will be closed to the public temporarily," Green said earlier this week.
Some concerned citizens have been driving by the now closed shelter. They don't like the fact that animals are being euthanized, but understand why it's happening, and say the shelter is doing the right thing.
Green urges pet owners to take their animals to a veterinarian if they are showing any signs of being sick.
Once the shelter does reopen they will be very careful with any animals coming in. They will have a thorough health examination, and if any appear to be sick, they probably will be put down.
For more information, contact Dacia Hudson with the Caldwell County Health Department at 828-426-8506 or Greg Greene with Caldwell County Animal Control at 828-757-8625.