LAND O' LAKES - Pasco County Animal Services stopped dog adoptions last week because of a virus outbreak, and the shelter will now reopen later than planned because more dogs have been infected.
The facility was closed after four dogs tested positive for a highly contagious infection called parvovirus, which is transmitted through dog feces and vomit. The animal services department planned to resume dog adoptions on Tuesday, but three more dogs have tested positive for the virus.
According to a press release, the shelter will reopen July 16 if there aren't any more infections. If another case is found, the shelter will postpone its reopening again.
All dogs admitted to the shelter receive the parvovirus vaccination, but dogs aren't tested for the virus unless they show symptoms. Because of the long incubation period, a dog could be infected yet asymptomatic when it arrives at the shelter.
According to a written announcement, parvovirus symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and fever. It's common in Dobermans, Rottweilers and animals that have not been spayed or neutered.
Suzanne Salichs, assistant county administrator for public services, said more measures are being taken to help stop the spread of the virus. Shelter employees now wear rubber suits when they enter the dog area. They take off the suits when they leave the area, she said, and put on new ones when they return.
"That's how intense this is," she said.
Although the dog adoption area will be closed and there won't be any adoption events, cat adoptions will continue. Cats aren't likely to contract parvovirus.
The shelter is 47 dogs over capacity, and Salichs said crowding can lead to virus outbreaks. Because of the crowding and the parvovirus, the shelter is not currently taking in stray dogs.
The shelter hopes to have a large community event when it reopens to help dogs get adopted. Salichs said closing the dog adoption area affects the facility because making dogs available for adoption is a large part of what the shelter does.
"It prevents them from going to a home, and it prevents us from taking any new ones in," she said.
She said the dogs with the virus have exhibited serious symptoms. Infected dogs are euthanized.
"It's not like someone gets a sniffle and you can treat it," she said. "It's full-blown."