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Animal Shelter To Reopen Thursday After Death Of 30 Dogs


The Oak Ridge Animal Shelterwill reopen Thursday after a “difficult” week that included the death of 30 dogs, all euthanized to fight a deadly, highly-contagious virus.

“It was very tough (on the shelter employees),” said Police Lt. Robin Smith.  “They bonded with those animals.” 

The shelter was supposed to reopen Tuesday, but Smith says workers are taking a couple extra days to clean and sanitize the facility to remove any trace of canine distemper.

Canine distemper is a relatively uncommon disease for dogs in the U.S. because most people have their dogs vaccinated.  However, a recent decrease in vaccinations is causing a resurgence of the disease.

Officials made the decision to euthanize the animals after a dog that was adopted from the shelter became ill with distemper and two more tested positive.   “We wanted to stop the infection right away,” Smith told Oak Ridge Today.

The shelter vaccinates all of its animals for distemper, but it can take up to 10 days for the vaccine to work. 

Canine distemper is an airborne virus that can easily be transferred from dog to dog.  And because domestic dogs can also get it from the saliva of wild animals like raccoons and coyotes, experts discourage homeowners from leaving animal food outside.