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/.
February 12, 2007 at 2:44 PM posted by: cathyscott
Gloria: My understanding is Lied has a minimum of 35 percent euthanasia rate, which goes up as the population increases. There's a foster program in place, but the numbers are fairly low. Rescue groups take dogs and cats out on a regular basis, but that, too, is not a large number (Best Friends has been one of those groups, rescuing small dogs from there over the last couple of years).
The shelter, on any given day, houses a total of 3,000 animals. It's been reported that as many as 1,800 dogs and cats have been euthanized since late last week. --CS
Cathy ~ Thank you for your professional reporting of such a painful story. My heart goes out to the animals and the staff.
Do you know if there are any statistics available about the number of animals who were being placed into homes or sent to other rescues out of the 200+ animals who were being brought into the shelter each day (before this tragedy happened)?
An outbreak of disease has forced the Lied Animal Shelter to temporarily halt all adoptions and euthanize some of its animals.
---------------------------------------------------------- The shelter is need of clean blankets and towels, which can be dropped off during the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to the receiving area in the parking lot at the shelter. It is located at 655 N. Mojave Road, Las Vegas. ----------------------------------------------------------
Three highly contagious diseases were discovered in several animals Friday morning during a routine check of the shelter's cats and dogs.
Veterinarians immediately isolated the infected animals which are suffering from canine distemper, canine parvovirus and feline panleukopenia.
The diseases can be fatal. Shelter workers say the most difficult one to treat is the parvovirus.
"One, it can be very tough on puppies. It's very very difficult to get rid of. They've done tests where there's parvo on the cement surface and washed it over and over again with disinfectants and the parvo is still there," said Mark Fierro, Lied Animal Shelter.
Outbreaks of similar diseases, they say, have happened here in the past, but this is the first time they've locked the shelter down in an effort to isolate it and treat it fast.
Right now vets are checking all of the animals one by one -- and there are thousands of them down there.
Lied spokesman Mark Fierro says the disease can be treated, but it's expensive and hard to get rid of.
"For the past several weeks we have had experts who have been on site," said Fierro. "We are working with them to develop a three day plan and and longer term solutions which will permanently address containment of these types of diseases."
Animal rescue volunteers say they've been told several hundred animals have been euthanized, but Lied has not confirmed that number.
Fierro says this is the only shelter that accepts all animals; none are turned away, so the possibility of animals coming down with something is not out of the picture.
Additionally, the vaccination and spay/neuter clinics are closed to the public and will not reopen until the disease outbreak is under control. The community is encouraged to seek such services from local veterinary clinics in the meantime.
"We will address this issue and in solving it, we will become a better shelter," said Fierro. "We have taken this extraordinary measure in an attempt to protect the community's pets. We believe that we will be able to return to normal operations within the next three weeks."
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