Parvovirus claims two dogs, closes Sullivan County animal shelter for week

J. H. Osborne • May 27, 2019 at 10:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Animal Shelter has been closed since last Monday due to two dogs having parvovirus. Both were euthanized after treatment by a veterinarian, county officials said Thursday.

On Friday, county employees told the Times News:

• The first thing that happened Monday was a power outage, and the shelter was closed while repairs were made by Bristol Tennessee Essential Services.

• While that work was going on, a dog that had been in the facility’s treatment room was confirmed to have the virus. The animal had been vaccinated against parvo, but in a timeframe shorter than that required for the vaccine to be fully effective. The dog, which also had mange, had shared the treatment room with another dog that had to be euthanized on May 9 due to a parvo diagnosis.

• With the second dog’s diagnosis, the decision was made to close the shelter for at least a week and staff began deep cleaning the facility, per parvo treatment guidelines provided by the University of Tennessee.

• Since May 1, three dogs have been euthanized at the shelter: the two with parvo and a third that had been struck by a car.

• As of Friday afternoon, the Sullivan County Animal Shelter had 104 cats and 57 dogs at the facility, and another 34 cats and 11 dogs being fostered elsewhere.

Sullivan County currently operates and funds the shelter. On July 1 a nonprofit organization, operated by a board of directors, is scheduled to assume day-to-day control of the shelter. The county has pledged to continue financial support as the nonprofit gets up and running and begins collecting donations.

When Sullivan County’s animal shelter closes, even for a few days, county residents turn to Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue, according to Bridge Home Director Regina Isenberg.

“We are full here with cats and dogs. We can only take so many. All those animals are coming here. People are calling us all day,” Isenberg said. “But when the county shelter is closed, what are people supposed to do?”

Bridge Home receives no public funding, so when the county shelter is closed and residents take their animals to the no-kill shelter, it puts an extra financial strain on Bridge Home. Isenberg has asked county officials to consider a $5,000 annual appropriation to Bridge Home to help pay for medicine the facility uses to vaccinate animals.

“These are the county’s animals and we need to take care of them,” she said.