By Cathy Scott, Best Friends Animal Society
LAS VEGAS -- The Lied Animal Shelter, a regional facility in Las Vegas, has closed its doors in an unprecedented move after a deadly outbreak of epidemic proportions of parvo, distemper and feline panleukopenia.
The shelter needs help in the way of donated blankets and towels. Officials are regrouping to see what other needs they have, including a foster program and the possible need for volunteer veterinary technicians. To volunteer to foster dogs and cats still arriving daily at the shelter that have not been exposed to disease, contact information is at the bottom of this story.
Because Lied is contracted by Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, animal control officers are continuing to drop off strays, but no owner turn-ins are being accepted.
Before it shut down, more than 200 animals a day were received at the shelter, which is privately run. Its clinic provides low-cost vaccinations and spays and neuters to the public, all of which have temporarily halted. Adoptions are on hold as well, as is pet licensing, which the shelter also handles.
Because of the rampant spread of disease, hundreds of dogs and cats in the lost-and-found areas of the shelter at North Mojave Road have in recent days been put down. To make room for the continuing daily intake of dogs and cats, adoptable animals could also be put down, according to Diane Orgill, executive director of the shelter.
Incoming dogs are temporarily being housed in bungalows not attached to the shelter, and cats are being housed inside shelter rooms not contaminated.
The shelter, which originally opened in 1978 to serve the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, has been overcrowded since it began in July 2005 taking in dogs and cats from the unincorporated area of Clark County.
Breed specific rescue groups were contacted the evening before the shelter closed, advising them of dogs to pick up.
One rescuer, Oli Lewis, the southern Nevada representative for the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation, arrived the next day to rescue three St. Bernards.
“To walk past all those dogs on the way to getting my Saints out of there killed me,” she said. “I wish I could have taken more.”
Because some dogs and cats were dying inside the shelter, officials called the Humane Society of the United States for evaluation.
The move to shut down and also do mass euthanasias was a last resort, Diane said. That decision was made after a team put together by HSUS made the recommendations to shelter officials three days ago. Veterinarians from the University of California, Davis, accompanied by HSUS inspectors to the shelter.
“(The euthanizations) are being done to stop the spread of disease,” Diane said in a telephone interview. It’s a difficult time and not something employees wanted to happen, she noted.
A three-day plan of action, put together by HSUS, was immediately put into effect, which meant the euthanasia of any dogs and cats showing symptoms, she said. Employees, since the shelter shut down, have been assigned rooms where they are bleaching, cleaning, drying, re-cleaning and sealing the concrete floors.
A short-term plan includes, in part, ensuring kennels are kept clean to prevent the spread of disease in the future.
To offer to foster a dog or cat not exposed to the diseases, contact the facility at 702-384-3333, Ext. 4. To volunteer your time or services, contact the shelter’s volunteer coordinator, Terri Magnani, at 702-384-333, Ext. 6. To donate to the shelter, go online to http://www.liedanimalshelter.org/