Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 8, 2011

Animal shelter dealing with contagious canine disease

No dogs or cats taken in; officials being ‘extra careful’

— CUMBERLAND — A case of a highly infectious canine disease is the major reason the Allegany County Animal Shelter has temporarily placed limits on accepting new animals.

“Allegany County Animal Shelter is at capacity for both dogs and cats and therefore will not be accepting any new animals at this time. ... We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation in this matter,” a posting Monday on the shelter’s official Facebook page reads.

The shelter currently houses 41 dogs and 150 cats, said Karl Brubaker, the shelter manager. It’s cat and kitten season and the cat numbers are “actually down from what they were,” Brubaker said.

“We are still at capacity. We have an issue with parvo,” Dick DeVore, the county’s emergency management division chief, said Wednesday. “Give us a little bit of time,” he said. “We’ve dealt with outbreaks like this before.”

Based on experience with previous outbreaks, “we want to be extra careful,” said Brubaker.

Because parvovirus is extremely contagious, the shelter can’t adopt dogs out or place them at animal rescues until a two-week incubation period is complete. A dog was diagnosed with the virus Monday and is currently in the care of a veterinarian, said DeVore. That means that there’s no way to reduce the dog population at the shelter.

“We’ve had decent success working at moving cats,” DeVore said. The county is trying to limit the number of euthanizations to those medically necessary and will not euthanize for space issues, DeVore has said.

Despite the shelter issues, animal control operations continue. County staff will continue to handle sick, injured or threatening animals. The shelter will not accept owner-surrendered animals.

“We cannot accept animals until we get the population where we want it to be,” DeVore said. He said the “magic number” would be about 35 dogs and 100 cats. While the county shelter has an open-admission policy, DeVore said the shelter has the discretion to limit intakes when faced with a situation like parvovirus.

“We will continue our core mission,” he said. “We are just taking a momentary pause,” DeVore said.

Staff and volunteers “continue to do a tremendous job.” A prime concern is to avoid spreading the virus outside the shelter, DeVore said.

Parvovirus is potentially fatal if not treated quickly. Treatment can be expensive, and it must be intensive, since the mortality rate for untreated dogs is high, said DeVore. The virus usually attacks the intestinal system of dogs.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at

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