HAZARD — Following a bout with a deadly canine disease, the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter is still not accepting new animals while officials continue to work to update and seal the shelter, and say they need volunteers to help them get back open as quickly as possible.
A serious outbreak of distemper forced the euthanasia of 198 dogs at the shelter that were found to have the virus. Distemper is a fatal virus that causes the slow and painful death of any dog that contracts it, but it can be prevented with a vaccination.
This common ailment in dogs can be passed without contact through a cough, sneeze, or even just being in close proximity. The cause of this particular outbreak was likely just one dog that had not been vaccinated and contracted the virus before being brought into the shelter.
Since having to put down nearly all of the dogs in the shelter, Tammy Noble, who chairs the shelter’s board of directors, said she and the rest of the board have been focused on turning a negative into a positive. They are making changes to the shelter to help reduce the chances of distemper or any other virus taking hold of so many animals again.
Noble said it is not uncommon for shelters to have this issue, but it doesn’t make it any easier. As prevention from this ever happening again, the shelter is receiving a thorough cleaning and is being completely repainted and sealed.
There had been hope of being able to accept animals by Monday, though Noble said they were unable to get the help needed to finish the work on time.
“We didn’t have enough help to get everything cleaned up,” she said.
Perry and Knott counties have donated supplies, and inmates from the Kentucky River Regional Jail inmates have also helped out. The problem is that the inmates are also responsible for road side clean-ups, cemetery clean-ups, and work throughout the counties and could not complete the work at the shelter.
“We had to paint and reseal everything,” said Noble. “We have to pressure wash … everything. The inmates helped us a whole lot, but we couldn’t get them as much as we needed them.”
Shelter officials have pushed back the date that they will begin accepting new animals to next Monday, August 6, but they still need help to complete the work. Noble said there are people at the shelter nearly all the time working, and any help would be appreciated.
As for the animals, none are currently staying inside the shelter while work is continuing. Thirteen dogs’ tests came back negative for distemper and they were saved. Tests for two additional dogs have not yet been received.
Noble added that they are hoping to send the 13 healthy dogs to no-kill rescues this weekend. In the meantime, they are staying in outdoor kennels that are not attached to the building.
Four hundred vaccines have been donated to the shelters to help keep animals coming into the shelter healthy, and Noble said that they are trying to find someone willing to donate a new refrigerator to the shelter so they can keep these and other medications viable and safe.