Distemper keeps doors closed at Southern Pines Animal Shelter

By Jeff Daley jdaley@wdam.com

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The doors at Southern Pines Animal Shelter remain closed following discovery of possible distemper in one of the dogs.

The unvaccinated dog was dropped of at the shelter in late January. Signs of the virus were discovered in the second week the dog was at the shelter.

The dog was euthanized and then the body was sent to Jackson for testing. When tests were inclusive the body was sent to the Mississippi State School of Veterinary Medicine where tests confirmed the existence of the disease

Doctor Kirk Frazier, veterinary advisor to the shelter, said distemper is a very serious disease that is highly contagious among dogs.

"It is often fatal and requires immediate attention for the health and well being of the sick animal as well as the animals around it," said Frazier.

According to shelter board president Karen Reidenbach, the quick recognition of the disease by the staff warded off what could have been a worse situation.

"We've taken the correct and necessary steps to protect the animals in our care and eliminate the threat of the disease," said Reidenbach. "When we are able to reopen and adopt animals again the community can be confident they will be healthy."

Shelter officials are now implementing a plan recommended by the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine and out of state shelter medical experts to remove the threat of disease. The plan includes continued closure for a few weeks during which time the dogs will undergo further testing to ensure they have not contracted the disease.

Doctor Frazier says since the discovery of the disease four other dogs have shown signs of the disease. Three have been euthanized and the fourth has been sent out for testing.

Reidenbach says the shelter will remain closed a minimum of three more weeks.

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