Unknown illness forces temp. closure of HSPC

Saturday, November 13, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- Maintaining a healthy environment for homeless animals is of the highest priority for the Humane Society of Putnam County (HSPC) and its executive director, Lynelle Cullen.

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 hspcanimals@yahoo.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.

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  • Its about time that place gets a good clean up. Last time I was in there is smelled so bad of cat feces that I could barely stand it and when I came back to the car, my wife noted the aroma of all the air freshners.

    -- Posted by justducky on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 8:52 AM
  • why does this comment section not work?

    -- Posted by justducky on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 8:55 AM
  • why haven't the vets already been called when the first dogs started getting ill...something doesn't sound right there.

    -- Posted by justducky on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 8:59 AM
  • This place is a nightmare and has been for years. Until there is new/better management it will continue. How unfortunate for all the helpless animals. Definition of insanity...doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome!

    -- Posted by chase611 on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 11:28 AM
  • this is what happens when you have a "no kill" shelter. not all animals are adoptable and some that are surrendered are sick. most shelters are running beyond their capacity and that just invites problems.

    -- Posted by albert on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 11:38 AM
  • Instead of criticizing the HSPC, why not try to help them instead? They get very little, if any government funding, and rely on fundrasers, adoptions, donations and volunteers. If you feel our local shelter smells bad, then why not donate cleaning supplies or volunteer your time to help keep it clean? Those people do the best they can everyday with what little they have, and they do it to help the animals. Perhaps the problem isnt manegement, but the lack of community support. So come on community! They need your help, not your criticism.

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 1:00 PM
  • First let me assure you that the shelter has contacted veterinarians and has tried numerous treatment recommendations before ever making the decision to close temporarily. This was not a decision that was taken lightly but was made in the best interest of the animals.

    Since re-opening over a year and a half ago, the shelter has hired dedicated, caring staff and has a new board consisting of wonderful upstanding citizens of this county.

    The shelter is grateful for all the community support we get but we do not get a lot of funding and the costs of running the shelter always outweigh the donations.

    If the shelter has smelled bad when someone has visited, for that I apologize. We could do a lot to keep the smell more under control but, again, it boils down to having the money for better quality litter and cleaning products.

    I know everyone is going to have an opinion but I know how many tears have been shed, how many sleepless nights the staff have had and how we are all feeling so please try for just a moment to think about the animals and not how things used to be at the shelter. We all want the shelter to be a better place and have been working hard to make that happen.



    -- Posted by lcullen on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 2:13 PM
  • I have heard many positive comments in the last couple of years about the shelter and the work of Ms. Cullen and the board. I know they and the volunteers love those animals and do their very best. I agree with the respondent who asked the complainer to get involved. Everyone's help is needed and many changes have been made through the years to make the shelter better. I wish the staff and volunteers the best and know they are hurting. I'm sorry for your heartbreak and know you are working in the best interest of the animals.

    -- Posted by gc1981 on Sat, Nov 13, 2010, at 4:30 PM
  • I whole-heartedly agree with animallover310 -- if it appears to you that they need help, then maybe you should volunteer out at the shelter and help them. The new director and staff have done fantastic work with very limited resources since the shelter has reopened. I'm thankful every day for these people who do a very difficult, thankless job, and they do it very well.

    -- Posted by Only_My_Opinion on Sun, Nov 14, 2010, at 8:30 AM
  • If the citizens of Putnam County took care of their animals we wouldn't have all these sick animals in the shelter. No one can criticize the shelter workers, because it is not their fault these animals come in sick. It is the bad pet owners who don't take care of their animals, and leave them to die.

    -- Posted by tanne123 on Sun, Nov 14, 2010, at 9:52 AM
  • My comments come from experience with this shelter. Not only have I volunteered my time, but I have also made several donations. Myself and other members of my family have adopted animals from this shelter. In the end it's the animals that suffer, how sad.

    -- Posted by chase611 on Sun, Nov 14, 2010, at 7:01 PM
  • I also volunteer here, and have done so recently. It is definitely not the shelter's fault. And you're right, the animals suffer, because of the people who don't take care of them in the first place. The shelter workers take care of these animals, and love these animals. You have absolutely no idea how hard they work to make these animals healthy, and how heartbroken they are to see these animals sick and see them put to sleep.

    -- Posted by tanne123 on Sun, Nov 14, 2010, at 8:10 PM
  • What happen to the young man that use to be in charge out there? That place never looked, smelled, or had such a friendly atmosphere. Maybe that's why you cant keep volunteers anymore because the "lady in charge" is not the friendliest to people. Those poor animals, they are the ones that pay.

    -- Posted by woochuck on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 6:02 AM
  • My "issue" isn't with the workers...as I've said I've done some work there myself. Yes, it's hard work, no one said it was easy. If you're in it for "thanks" not your cup of tea. Point being I've seen this shelter improve many times to only go down hill again and again. What is the constant in the equation? If you have poor leadership it doesn't matter how many volunteers you have.

    -- Posted by chase611 on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 6:15 AM
  • woochuck -- who says the shelter can't keep volunteers? there are a number of very loyal volunteers that help out at the shelter and in other ways. The volunteers and employees I know absolutely love the executive director.

    Chase661 -- what management are you speaking of that need changed? I believe the board of directors has ALL new members in the last couple of years and a new director was hired less than a year ago -- who do you think needs changed? If you'd like to be on the board, you can contact them and nominate yourself to be a board member.

    -- Posted by Only_My_Opinion on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 3:31 PM
  • I agree w/ "albert" - hits the nail on the head!!! A no-kill shelter seems ideal, but truthfully it is not realistic. I have nothing negative to say about the employees & volunteers & board members as a whole. The real problem is that it is a no-kill shelter & there are way too many homeless animals. Sad as it may be...something's gotta give to make it work.

    -- Posted by BG-reader on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 4:32 PM
  • Merely expressing my observation. If you don't utilize your staff effectively things fall apart. Having a love of animals doesn't automatically qualify you to run/manage a shelter.

    -- Posted by chase611 on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 5:09 PM
  • I personally do not feel that making this a "kill shelter" will make things run more smoother. Keeping the "inventory" to a managable size is key, though at times very difficult to do. Possibly adding surrender fees for all pets being left behind, can greatly help with the troubles of getting vacc. and sp/neu cost taken care of. The one thing I do know from being an active volunteer as well as comments from other volunteers before the new management took over the gentlemen that was in charge brought this shelter from rocky times to some of the best times in ways this small shelter has ever seen. Sadly and not just because of this sudden outbreak, we feel things slowly getting back to the ways the shelter was before the doors had to be closed a few years ago.

    -- Posted by woochuck on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 6:56 PM
  • I am sorry that some of you have such negative feelings toward our shelter. I have volunteered and donated for over a year now and plan to keep doing so. Please dont stop trying to help them, even though you have not had good experiences there. It is the animals that need your help.I believe the "constant" in the equation you keep speaking of is the constant lack of money and community support. It doesnt matter who the "leader" is if there is no money to support them and what they are trying to do. It is sad that they have to raise their own money, just to try and stay open. They provide our county with a wonderful service and we NEED them. Some of the workers even put their own money in. I absolutly love the director and all of her staff. They deal with heartbreaking situations of abuse and neglect everyday and I am very grateful to them. I do not agree with "albert" about our "no kill" shelter but can certainly see why you feel that way. I support our "no kill" shelter and feel we should give every animal a chance at a better life. Unfortunetly, it takes more money and more space to do so. Just one of many reasons I will continue to support our shelter, I dont care who the director is.

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 7:49 PM
  • As far as I know there is a surrender fee - at least there was not long ago, but sometimes people just dump the animals. There are all kinds of valid fees - there are too many animals & too many animals being salvaged that need to be put down, no matter how much you love animals. That's where being an animal lover doesn't always cut it as a leader/director/employee/volunteer. Again, not saying anything negative about all the above other than the whole operation being a no-kill shelter just doesn't work. Like Dr. Phil says.....

    -- Posted by BG-reader on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 10:21 PM
  • No, there is not a surrender fee, and I also support that. Although it would be a valid fee,it would only discourage people from bringing them to the shelter, and we would end up with more stray, sick and neglected animals.Some people just simply can no longer afford to take care of them, these are hard times. The last animal I adopted was surrendered for that very reason. She was very thin, sick and her coat was so terrible she had to be shaved. Now she lives with me and is healthy and so beautiful and sweet. I realize that some animals have to be put down for public safety, but not because they are sick or simply because there is no more room. I can understand your point of view, but this is where we will just have to agree to disagree. In my oppinion, being an animal lover who believes all animals deserve a chance, is EXACTLY what makes us good leaders/directors/employees/volunteers!

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 8:25 AM
  • I would like to encourage everyone to go to www.theanimalrescuesite.com, click on the shelter+challenge tab on the right and vote for HSPC. It could help them win some much needed money. The challenge is running through Dec. 19 I think so keep voting every day! This is an easy way to help if you dont have the time or money to donate.

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 8:56 AM
  • The young pup and the older dog lay on shaded sweet grass watching the reunion. Sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes a whole family would approach the Rainbow Bridge, be greeted by their loving pets and cross the bridge together.

    The young pup playfully nipped at the older one. "Look! Something is happening!" The older dog stood up and barked, "Quickly, Get over to the path."

    "But that's not my owner," whined the pup, but he did as he was told. Thousands of pets surged forward as a figure in white walked on the path toward the bridge. After the flowing figure passed each animal, that animal bowed its head in love and respect. The figure finally approached the bridge, and was met by a menagerie of joyous animals. Together, they all walked over the bridge and disappeared.

    The young pup was still in awe. "Was that an angel?" he whispered.

    "No, son." The older dog replied. "That was more than an angel. That was a person who worked rescue."

    Author Unknown

    -- Posted by mad-mom on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 9:53 AM
  • I have a dog from our shelter he had been there for awhile if this was a kill shelter i never would have got him. He is the best thing to come into my life. I didn't rescue him that day he rescued me.

    -- Posted by woochuck on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 11:25 AM
  • Thank you to all who have responded. Both the positive and negative comments have been read by the staff and board and while some of them brought us to tears, others have reinforced to us why we do what we do...it's all for the animals and all about them.

    Once the shelter re-opens, I would like to encourage anyone who has an "issue" or even a suggestion for the shelter to come and visit. I would be happy to sit down and speak to anyone (and can even show a copy of my resume if you wish :) ). I can also be reached at hspcanimals@yahoo.com.


    -- Posted by lcullen on Tue, Nov 16, 2010, at 7:31 PM
  • No disrespect, but words on a piece of paper (resume) don't translate to a good leader/manager. Proof is in the pudding, actions speak louder than words. I wish nothing but the best for the shelter. Especially now with the economy in a down turn volunteers are critical...use them wisely.

    -- Posted by chase611 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 6:35 AM
  • chase611- you seem to have such animosity toward the management there, that I cant help but think maybe you have some ideas or suggestions on how they can improve. Maybe the next time you are there volunteering your time and money, you could sit down with someone and go over some of your ideas. I encourage you to become more involved if you do not like the way things are being run. As YOU yourself said, actions speak louder than words.

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 8:32 AM
  • animallover310~Yes, I do as a matter of fact. I would start by treating ALL that enter the shelter with kindness and respect. People that enter the shelter are there for various reasons, not always pleasant ones. Number two, answer the phone each and EVERY time it rings. 3. Make it clear to all volunteers their help is vital, which means no job is too small. Everyone needs to be busy. My last experience with the shelter just a few months ago, too many people standing around and seemingly didn't know what to do. "Office dog" busy urinating on the door frame. How do you think the people that put in the time to redo, paint etc. would feel about that? If the work that people invest in the shelter isn't maintained people will stop helping, period.

    -- Posted by chase611 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 9:30 AM
  • chase611- Wow. I can see you are angry. I have delt with the shelter for a long time now and not once have I had a bad experience such as yours. 1-I have always been treated with kindness and respect. 2- there is no way they have the time to answer that phone EVERY time it rings. Im there every week and sometimes that phone rings non-stop when they arent even open yet! They are all busy tending to animals, as they should be. Leave a message and let them get back to you when it is more convenient for them. That is what the answering machine is for. 3- I have always been told "thank you" for my help and told how much they appreciate me. I have NEVER seen ANYONE just standing around not knowing what to do. As far as the office dog urinating on the floor, come on are you kidding me? Its an ANIMAL shelter for gosh sakes. Of coarse some animals are going to urinate on the floor. I can assure you it gets cleaned up. And Im sure the people that donate their time to redo the paint understand this as well. Thats why we are all there. To help.

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 1:39 PM
  • chase611..ummm..maybe you should have walked the poor dog instead of watching it urinate? no..wait..then you would have one less thing to complain about

    -- Posted by fedup4 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 1:43 PM
  • Wow, it's nice to know you are so open minded when it comes to others thoughts and ideas! Seems as though you have it all figured out. Best of luck to the shelter.

    -- Posted by chase611 on Wed, Nov 17, 2010, at 7:09 PM
  • chase611- How dare you say I am not open to suggestions and ideas! What is wrong with you? I have encouraged you to keep helping and to share your thoughts and ideas throughout this whole thing. I agree with fedup4, all you want to do is complain. If you really wanted to help the animals, you would take your suggestions to the board, or maybe you could volunteer your time and make sure you answer the phone EVERY time it rings. You could even clean up the office dogs mess while you are answering the phone. Should they hire someone to do this? Where would that money come from when they are already hurting? It seems to me that if you are not getting the respect you think you deserve, then maybe you should show a little more respect the next time you are there. They are all overworked and understaffed and need your help, not your critisism. Even after someone posted that nice story, and another nice comment of the wonderful animal they adopted from the shelter, you still have to post one last negative comment and leave things on a sour note. I have tried to remain polite through this whole thing but you are impossible. Why dont you get up and volunteer to fix these things you are complaining about, instead of wasting your time trying to bash management in the internet?

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Thu, Nov 18, 2010, at 1:51 PM
  • Thank you to all that have been voting for our HSPC at www.theanimalrescuesite.com. We have made good progress since I posted it and want to encourage everyone to keep voting! I am so pleased that there are people reading that actually do want to help. Thank you everyone and keep up the good work!

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 8:55 AM
  • Chase 611, you obviously have issues with how you were treated during your visit to the shelter. There are more effective ways to deal with this than the way you have on this site. We are fortunate to have a Humane Society in Putnam County. They are a worthy cause and need help. Otherwise, what will happen to these animals? Everyone who has responded is correct. Do something to help or bring up your complaints in the proper forum where they can be addressed. What you have done here is cowardly. How brave you can be in your anonymity online.

    -- Posted by mist54 on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 12:56 PM
  • If there is anyone still out there, there as also a fan photo contest at the same website, www.theanimalrescuesite.com. Upload your cute animal photos and enter our shelter for a chance to win $2000. This is also a free way to try to help. And keep voting! There is a weekly winner to the shelter with the most votes and we got several this week! Thank you everyone!

    -- Posted by animallover310 on Fri, Nov 19, 2010, at 8:16 PM
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