A recent unknown illness has taken the lives of many cats and dogs brought to the shelter in hopes of finding new, permanent homes. As a result, the organization has made the decision to temporarily close its doors.
"The illness typically begins with a runny nose or cough, but it can often cause the animals to stop eating," a news release from HSPC said. "These symptoms are common in animals brought to the shelter and often indicate stress, a lack of prior vaccinations, veterinary care, and poor nutrition. Typically, the animal is quarantined and treated for its symptoms; however, this has not helped the current situation. Neither the cause nor the method of transmission of this illness is known."
"It has been very frustrating for Lynelle," said Lynn Bohmer, HSPC president. "She has had many years experience in shelter management and medicine and has always been able to contain illness."
The outbreak is not only frustrating, but emotionally draining for everyone involved with the humane society.
The illness has recently transferred from dogs to cats and kittens, the release said. The first case was approximately six weeks ago, and the illness seems to only affect the animals brought to the shelter after the first animal became ill.
Local veterinarians have been contacted for input, and the shelter is pursuing support from the Purdue University Veterinary School.
To ensure against illness, the humane society has a strict regimen of sanitization, quarantine, testing and vaccination.
Normal practices have failed. Cullen said the shelter's sanitization procedures have been updated to include air ducts, filters, storage areas, and pathways.
"Every nook and cranny in or around the shelter was and continues to be sanitized at least once a day," Cullen said.
Also, surrendered puppies and kittens were tested and inoculated away from shelter grounds and immediately sent into foster care. All remained healthy and have been adopted.
Late last week, the shelter decided to suspend adoptions and turn away new volunteers and incoming animals.
The shelter has had to euthanize animals showing symptoms in order to contain the illness and prevent further suffering.
The board of directors said this is necessary to not only protect the remaining shelter animals, but also to keep all dogs and cats in Putnam County safe.
The shelter hopes to reopen and resume normal operation in approximately two weeks, provided no new cases of the illness arise.
"We all know how difficult this time is for the staff and the community, not to mention our poor animals," said Bohmer. "The shelter staff truly love the animals they care for. I think all can imagine how difficult it is for those workers. We also think of those dogs and cats in need of our services and the frustration of community members who cannot bring us a stray or neglected pet."
The unexpected illness also has created a financial burden on the humane society. Approximately one-third of the organization's income comes from pet adoptions and services.
Coupled with the loss of income, the shelter has experienced additional expenses associated with sanitization protocols, medical treatment, and euthanasia.
"We are a small shelter with limited resources and a very strict budget," said Cullen. "We are all emotionally distraught over the loss of these beloved animals and wish we could do more for them, but we have to think about our financial future as well."
Updates on the shelter may be found at www.hspcanimals.org. Although no staff member will be available regularly to answer the telephone, lost and found reports will be duly recorded.
Inquiries and reports also may be e-mailed to email@example.com.
Contributions will be especially welcomed at this time. Checks may be mailed to: HSPC, PO Box 444, Greencastle, IN 46135.
Contributions of Bleach, Fabuloso, Clorox wipes, kitty litter, hot dogs (for the dogs) and canned dog food can be dropped off inside the front gate at the shelter. Staff will check regularly for donations.