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Infection prompts PSPCA to empty shelter

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals plan to remove all the animals from a city shelter and disinfect the building after a dog died of a rare illness last month.

The PSPCA will place the dogs and cats with animal rescue agencies around the region.

PSPCA officials say the death of a 3-year-old chocolate Lab last week from a viral infection prompted the decision to empty and clean the building.

Officials quarantined the PSPCA shelter on West Hunting Park Avenue last year after an outbreak of the same illness that killed at least six dogs. The infection was identified as Streptococcus zooepidemicus, or “strep zoo”

While the PSPCA disinfected the shelter after last year’s outbreak, PSPCA chief executive officer Sue Cosby said it’s possible the strain may have remained.

“It could be we never completely eliminated it from the building,” she said.

Cosby said all the dogs from the shelter will be placed with animal-rescue agencies across the region, and only new dogs will be admitted after the cleaning.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, health issues have plagued the shelter for years.

Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue, said the of the 300 dogs and cats he had taken from the PSPCA in the last year, virtually every one had some form of illness, ranging from mild upper-respiratory infection to strep zoo.

The building itself, a former warehouse, is apparently at the root of the problem, the Inquirer reported. It lacks adequate air circulation and  a quarantine area where staff can isolate incoming dogs.

“It was not built to house animals,”  said Melissa Levy of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, which rescued 2,200 animals from the shelter last year. ”When the city established it as an animal-control shelter, they paid no attention to how the building needed to be outfitted.

“It’s a hotbed for disease,” she added. “The problems are not going to go away. The PSPCA is doing what they can do, but they’re working with a sick building.”

Comments

Comment from Jimmy
Time April 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Gee, that sounds like a smart idea. Let’s take the healthy dogs off the street and put them in this disease infested building. Why wouldn’t they leave the dogs that have already been exposed to the disease there. Better idea, give them to rescues so they can infect their other foster animals. Are these people for real? It sounds to me like the PSPCA needs to be shut down for good. The animals of Philly deserve better.

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