Sullivan County Animal Shelter closed again due to Parvo

J. H. Osborne • Jul 9, 2019 at 10:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Animal Shelter will continue to operate under the direct supervision of county officials due to recent upheaval at the facility. The shelter remained closed Tuesday, nearly a week after the most recent publicized outbreak of the Parvo virus. It was unclear when the shelter will reopen, or exactly how many dogs were sickened — or died — from this Parvo outbreak. The shelters six employees and some community service workers assigned to work at the shelter underwent onsite training in the proper prevention and post-Parvo cleanup protocols on Tuesday. The training came from experts sent from the University of Tennessee’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said.

Prior to Jan. 1, 2018, the county was in partnership with the cities of Kingsport and Bluff City to provide animal control and joint operation of two shelters — one in Kingsport and another in Blountville. The Sullivan County Commission voted to dissolve that partnership. Since Jan. 1, 2018, the county has operated the Sullivan County Animal Shelter at the Blountville facility, which has been partially expanded and renovated after a massive cleanup and pest extermination effort to rid the building of mice and rats (alive and dead).

Several months ago, the county created a nonprofit organization designed to eventually operate the shelter. A board of directors was put in place and worked to hire a shelter manager in anticipation of the group assuming day-to-day control of the shelter on July 1 of this year. A candidate was selected and hired by the board in May with a start date of July 1.

Venable said the man delayed his start date by one day, came in the second day and had resigned by the third day.

That was about the time this incidence of Parvo became evident, and the shelter has been closed to the public since. Venable said he did not know how many dogs were sickened or died due to this Parvo outbreak, but said he had understood it might total five — including two from an outbreak a month or so ago.

Venable said the board of directors has been interviewing applicants for the manager’s position and he hopes they will find one soon. But due to the situation, Venable said it clearly isn’t the right time for the county to turn complete oversight of the shelter to the board — so for now he’s taking calls to answer questions about the shelter himself.