Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter

OSKALOOSA — There is no parvovirus outbreak at Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter

Staff have taken every precaution to make sure there is no parvovirus threat at the shelter, according to Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter Interim Director Terry Gott.

Gott said a 4-5 month-old puppy had been adopted from the shelter that within several days had died from the virus. The shelter paid the veterinarian’s bill and reimbursed the owners’ adoption fee.

When a dog is exposed to parvo, Gott said said, it takes anywhere from 3-14 days to show symptoms. He explained to the owners there was no way for the shelter to know the dog had parvo as the dog had been previously exposed to the virus before coming to the shelter.

“I really apologized, ‘I’m sorry that you lost your dog,’” he said. “’We’re just as upset about it as you are because everybody fell in love with [the dog] when she was here.’”

Gott set up a voluntary quarantine at the shelter for 14 days.

“Up to 14 days, if they don’t show any signs, then we’re good to go. So I said we’re going to quarantine the dog room for 14 days,” he said. “Nobody goes in the kennels, nobody comes out. The dogs are confined to their kennels. We aren’t showing dogs, we aren’t walking dogs, people can’t do meet and greets. The dogs are confined until we get this figured out and make sure nobody else is coming down with it.”

Gott said the whole shelter has been bleached, top to bottom, because bleach kills parvovirus.

“We also took our foamer bottle outside on the garden hose and we bleached every yard out here. We went through nine gallons of bleach to get it done,” he said. “So everything out here has been sanitized. That’s why we’ve got dogs in placed in the kennels.”

And, of course, the Facebook rumor mill ground away, Gott said, with suppositions and misinformation and name calling.

Gott said he talked to veterinarian Kelli Nibe, who assured him there was nothing the shelter did wrong.

“The people on Facebook said ‘why don’t you test your dogs for parvo?’ That parvo snap test costs $30. We’ve got 19 dogs in here,” he said. “You take that times 30 — we’re a nonprofit. We don’t have money just lying around,’ oh yeah lets test everybody.’ If they haven’t been exposed to it, then you just wasted $30.”

Testing every dog is not feasible, Nibe said.

“It’s not real logical to go through and test everybody,” she said. “Dogs that have had their full series of vaccines – a lot of the adult dogs out there aren’t going to be susceptible to that, they’re protected against it,” she said. “You don’t know a dog’s history, so screening them all, if that’s something they want to do, that’s okay, but that’s not something that a lot of shelters typically do. It’s not a disease they would typically screen for.”

Gott said most of the dogs in the shelter have already had their initial parvo/distemper vaccination and their two-week booster.

“So there’s only 3-4 of then that are actually running the risk,” he said. “And like I said, nobody’s moving out of their kennels, nobody’s handling the dogs and then handle another dog. That’s the reason why we did the quarantine so that we didn’t have to worry about it.”

Gott said he feels really, really bad about the situation.

“But people just don’t understand,” he said. “And there was no parvo outbreak. Outbreak means that everybody out here’s got it. It was just one dog – and she wasn’t showing any symptoms when she got here.”

Nibe said dogs that were late on vaccines as puppies can be very susceptible to parvo.

“It can be out in people’s lawns, you can pick it up and bring it in your house,” she said. “It’s just all over, everywhere. And that’s why it’s so important to get your dogs vaccinated on time.”

The problem with parvovirus, Nibe said, is it persists in the environment – especially if it’s cool and damp – for longer than five months and up to eyars.

“So that’s where, you know, where did this dog get exposed to it? It can get exposed on the sidewalk,” she said. “I feel really bad about the whole situation because the dog was brought here. It’s just a bad situation all around but I don’t think it could have been prevented, necessarily.”

There have been four cases of parvo that dogs have come down with at the new shelter location, Gott said.

“And we have never, ever lost a dog to parvo,” he said. “Because the staff are trained.”

If a staff member sees symptoms of parvo, a test is done right away.

“If it comes back positive, then they go straight in our isolation room. Anybody that goes in there to clean has to wear a hazmat suit, rubber booties, gloves, mask the hairnet, the whole nine yards. And we clean with bleach,” he said. “When they come out of that room, after they’re done, they have to strip all of their protective clothing off at the door, throw it into a garbage bag, tie it shut and it goes straight to the Dumpster. We have a litter box outside the door with bleach in it you have to step in when you come out of there so you’re not tracking it all over the place.”

The staff knows the protocol, Gott said.

“We’ve done it enough,” he said. “I’ve even had the vets train me on how to do the IV fluids. Because they’ll dehydrate with parvo if they don’t get IV fluids and they’ll die. The vets have showed me how to do it myself so we don’t have the extra cost of leaving the dog at the vet for 5-6 days, I can do the IV fluids right here.”

Gott said the shelter has done everything possible to prevent parvo.

“We aren’t scared that we’re going to get it. We’ve done everything that we could humanly, possibly do,” he said. “And we’re keeping a close eye on the dogs. If one of them shows up with it, we’ll treat it. We know what we’re doing here. I know a lot of people don’t understand that.”

Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.

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