Updated: WV Shelter Threatens to Kill Pets Amidst Disease Outbreak

The Kanawha Charleston Humane Association in WV posted on its Facebook page yesterday that 2 dogs had tested positive for distemper.  Although initial reports from the shelter indicated a plan to kill every pet in the building (there is reportedly a simultaneous outbreak of panleukopenia with the cats), later statements were modified.  As of this morning, the shelter has killed 16 dogs and 8 cats and has arranged to have vets assess the rest of the population to determine if any can be saved.  An emergency meeting has been called, per the shelter’s FB page:

Emergency board meeting, Thursday, December 20th, at 9 a.m. at the shelter. We will be reviewing the situation and seeing if we can come up with alternatives to putting all 80 animals to sleep. The public is welcome, but please note, public comment is limited to 30 minutes.

As is so often the case, the shelter director is blaming the public.

“What we get here is everyone’s throwaways,” [director Donna] Clark said. “You get dogs that never have vaccines, dogs running loose.”

And on Facebook:

Distemper is a result of the public not vaccinating their animals, not something KCHA did. […] This is a very hard time for the shelter staff, as they have to put these animals to sleep, support instead of criticism from the public is greatly appreciated.

While it’s true that animal shelters do indeed take in some unvaccinated pets as well as “dogs running loose” – that is their job.  We pay them for that.  And certainly some of the pets they take in have been vaccinated previously, even if it’s unknown to the shelter, so it is not logical to assume that no pets in the population have immunity during an outbreak.

At any rate, while the shelter can not control the behavior of every pet owner in the community, they can, and must, do their job once they pick up a pet for impound.  It begins with sanitizing every cage on the ACO truck in between animals.  The officer too should change gloves or at least use hand sanitizer between handling animals.  Before being brought into the building, or if that’s not possible then immediately upon entrance, all non-emergency pets should be vaccinated.

The shelter medicine program at UC Davis says distemper vaccine starts protecting dogs within minutes of administration:

Vaccines for canine distemper have been shown to provide very good protection, even when given only 15 minutes before exposure to the disease!

KCHA says they vaccinate all their pets:

Shelter employees vaccinate every animal that’s brought in, but the injections are useless if the dog or cat is already infected, according to Clark.

If KCHA is cleaning using standard disease prevention protocols and vaccinating all pets upon intake, there is absolutely no reason to be considering, or to have ever considered, killing the entire population because 2 dogs tested positive for distemper.  It makes no sense.  Some of the population is absolutely immune, if everyone at KCHA has been doing their job, which they say they have.

Instead of asking the public to support them killing pets, I think KCHA should reach out to the public for assistance with quarantine, which they will need in order to manage this outbreak. For example, are there any local cat owners willing to take in an asymptomatic dog for a few weeks to make sure he doesn’t break with distemper?  Although the moronic pet limit law in the area might prevent some pet lovers from helping, for fear of being found to be over the limit.  But again, I’m sure the public is to blame.

I will update this post today as warranted.

(Thanks Vicki, Kei and Clarice for alerting me to this story.)

Update:  The shelter has posted on its FB page that the vets recommended only 4 dogs be euthanized.  40 dogs are asymptomatic and available for adoption.  The remainder are being quarantined at the shelter.  I could not find any information about the cats.  If anyone sees any statements from the shelter about the cats, please share.

34 thoughts on “Updated: WV Shelter Threatens to Kill Pets Amidst Disease Outbreak

  1. All puppies were killed, and all cats (although that was changed to the cats were found dead, all 60, in the morning). 15 adult dogs. Killing stopped when the media showed up.

  2. Why are they killing cats? They cannot catch k-9 distemper! The shelter is blaming the vet board. They are cowards for not standing up for the animals in their county. Shelters in this area have all been thru distemper outbreaks, and yes, some of them did mass euthanasia. Others did quarantine. Itis easier to kill than quarantine. Nobody wants to do what is right, only what is easy and cheap. I remember when the Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas killed 1200 animals in 1 day due to illness.

  3. This whole thing reeks of “kill them before Christmas so we don’t have to come in and feed them over the holiday”.

    I find it extremely unlikely that all 60 cats died overnight all on their own. I suspect they were “helped” with needles and FatalPlus.

    1. I agree with you 100%.. That was my first thought when I read this…the shelter workers don’t want to work during the holidays. Tomorrow is kill day at my local shelter too.. This makes me so mad… I hope there’s a complete investigation..

  4. Yes, shelters DO KILL ANIMALS AT CHRISTMAS BECAUSE THEY DONT WANT TO DEAL WITH THEM OVER THE 4 DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND. shelters dont tell anyone they are doing this. They hide what they do.Instead of asking the public to volunteer over the holiday, they kill for convenience.

  5. They are on their facebook page trying to smooth things over but so far have not answered questions about the cats.

  6. “This is a very hard time for the shelter staff, as they have to put these animals to sleep, support instead of criticism from the public is greatly appreciated.”

    Don’t forget to bring the cupcakes when you come to wipe our tears!! We, after all, don’t WANT to kill….

      1. It has been reported that there were 60 cats “found dead” – this is being ignored now and they have the spin on. they ignore and have deleted comments asking about these cats. they claim they only had 8 cats incarcerated in their shelter and needed to kill 5 of them. I live in rural WV – shelters in rural area have more than 8 cats in one room. Kanawha county includes the capital of Charleston – it is very urban – and they say they only 8 had total cats? i don’t believe it. Other cat advocates don’t believe it. This group is marvelous at the spin doctor technique and the use of “shelter speak”. RIP in little ones.

  7. https://www.facebook.com/dogblessadvocacy?fref=ts
    This group is volunteers that help the animals at the shelter.
    Here is the shelter’s FB Page- i just viewed it
    These animals are urgent- the shelter will let these animals be adopted or go to rescue. They will not let them be fostered out.
    You can contact Dog Bless if you want to foster. They can help.

      1. Good question. This shelter has always been difficult. The group of volunteers is trying to change things. I think fostering can be done thru dog bless. Operation Underdog is a group that assist Raleigh County, WV shelter and does an amazing job. They offered their services to Charleston, WV shelter and things did not go as planned so i think they have stepped back.

  8. According to Dog Bless, only dogs who have rescue commitments can be fostered. They said they “dont make the rules” and are working with rescues and need short term fosters.

      1. All dogs are urgent at this shelter. It is a high kill shelter every day of the week. If a dog coughs or sneezes, they kill. If any of the remaining dogs sniffle, they will kill. Wondering how much extra the euthanasia techs get for killling?

      2. What I’m saying is, in the face of disease outbreak, where they are claiming there is an urgent need to get the asymptomatic dogs out, they need to be accepting all reasonable offers – including fosters. They can’t claim URGENT and then be like, “Nah, we’re not inclined to actually partner with the community here.”

      3. I agree, YesBiscuit! They are making things difficult. I went thru the SAME thing with Mercer, WV shelter during their last distemper outbreak.(they had 3 in 2012) They would not allow dogs to go to rescue only private adoptions in the county.We got the dog, not saying how, but we did rescue the dog the they would have killed because he had kennel cough!

  9. Seems the shelter/animal control has abandoned 3 puppies at a vet office in town. Vet office will not board the dogs and if they are not picked up, will be euthanized. Shelter has offers of foster homes but is not utilizing them….Read what was posted on Dog Bless yesterday and today about these pups…..

    Did anyone pick up the puppies from Animal Care Associates?
    Like · · 23 minutes ago

    Dog Bless No. The shelter has not mentioned stray fosters. I am hoping that a vet clinic can at least help out in this time, and may have already found them homes
    11 minutes ago · Like

    Charlene Rose They said they would PTS if not picked up & everything I’ve been reading about strays, is saying DB is going to handle that…?

    Animal Care Associates
    We have 3 puppies, age unknown, being brought to us at this time, since the shelter is in quarantine mode. They were found on the side of the road by a client. There were 4, but 1 was hit by a car. If you can foster these until the shelter is able to start receiving, please give us a call at 304-344-2244, ask for Melissa. If we cannot find fosters or someone to adopt these pets, we will have to euthanize as we cannot board longterm. Again, the puppies are on route, so breed, condition, sex, is all unknown at this time. We are just trying to find fosters lined up for them.
    Like · · 22 hours ago
    2 people like this.

    Animal Care Associates Just to give an update: Puppies have arrived, waiting for doctors to examine them, they are 3 females; appear to be hound/beagle mix. Super cute!
    21 hours ago · Like · 1

    1. Some swell vet clinic there. We’ll “have to” kill them if the irresponsible public doesn’t swoop in immediately to save them. Gee, I wonder where they learned that?

    2. I cannot believe this clinic would euthanize these puppies. I wonder what the WV code of ethics for vets would be in this situation.

    1. all pets and animals at our missouri shelters cannot leave the shelters without up to date vaccinations,all adult dogs and cats are spayed and or nuetered before they ever leave the shelters here!!! that is missouri state law!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Asked about the cats on the FB page, post was deleted within minutes. Nice they can put so much effort into hiding information rather than, you know, saving lives.

    1. they dont want the public to know about the cats the killed. But the public already knows and are upset but are not making a big deal about it like they do with dogs.

    2. I heard from another reader who said she asked too and her question was also deleted. That is ridiculous and I honestly question whether a public agency can destroy legitimate questions from the public like that. I hate to have to hit them with FOIA while they’re busy saving lives (er – ) but gee.

    3. This thread is on their facebook page…..I commented on another thread about the cat killing rumor and my comment was not answered but it was not deleted. I have been contacting my charleston person to see what she knows.

      Shannon Pauley
      Why is no one talking about the cats that lost their lives yesterday? By several reports 68? All animals are equally important and something needs to change!!!
      Unlike · · 4 hours ago via mobile
      You and 17 others like this.

      Charlene Rose I think right now the urgent concern is saving the lives of the ones cleared to leave. Time for blame later…?
      2 hours ago · Like · 1

      Shannon Pauley Not when 68 cats were euthanized yesterday – it needs to put in the public eye – and they need to answer for it.
      2 hours ago · Unlike · 2

      Jennifer Marie Johnson Amen. If 68 dogs were put down yesterday no one would be talking about any cats left there today. It would be all about the dogs that died and how awful it was. The shelter director would have been fired already. I hope the dogs that are left make it out. But it is time to place blame where it belongs so procedures can be taken to ensure that these mass killings do not happen again-to dogs or cats!
      about an hour ago via mobile · Like · 4

      Lorie Erskine Can someone confirm it was 68 cats?
      Concerned if so, why this was done before the emergency meeting.
      about an hour ago · Like

      Shannon Pauley The euthing of the cats was done first thing yesterday morning before the news broke
      about an hour ago via mobile · Like

      Shannon Pauley Multiple reports from shelter workers and also volunteers at the shelter yesterday when this all went down
      about an hour ago via mobile · Like

      Debi Ball McCoy It makes me sick. Why were rescue groups not given the opportunity to save them??
      about an hour ago via mobile · Like

      Jenny Vest I just wonder if the ones that are doing all the complaining has gone there to adopt ???????

      1. They put my comment back up and are now saying that only 8 cats were killed (not 60 or 68 as is being reported by others) and only three are available for adoption.

Leave a Reply