Dog adoptions through the Emporia Animal Shelter have been on hold for some time as officials investigate an illness that has sickened or killed a number of dogs since late winter. Now, with a cause likely determined, dog intake has been halted at the facility as well.
City and county officials have brought in the Capital Area Animal Rescue Team to set up a temporary intake center at the Lyon County Fairgrounds with distemper now confirmed at the shelter, resulting in the deaths of over 60 dogs since February. Executive Director Julie Castaneda says CAART is committed to this project for at least three weeks.
"You're basically putting together a new structure and process so the dogs aren't exposed to what's happening at the other location," Castaneda said. "We bring cages, bowls, all the resources, paper towels and paperwork," she added.
"As emergency management, we have resources we bought with Homeland Security money for things like this," Emergency Management Coordinator Rick Frevert said.
Animal Shelter manager Peggy Derrick says this is extremely tough to swallow.
"We euthanized several dogs the past couple weeks and over the past few days we had to euthanize a few more, not because they were sick but because it was pretty much precaution. Things that had come in the same time frame had somehow become exposed or in the same area maybe as some who had shown symptoms," she said.
Derrick says the remaining dogs at the Animal Shelter are currently in good health. Police Chief Scott Cronk says this is a natural step with dogs still needing a place to stay.
"We still have dogs running at large and being brought in, so we had to set up a temporary place to shelter the animals where they wouldn't be exposed to what happening at the Animal Shelter," he said.
Local veterinarian Dr. Floyd Dorsey says issues first came to light in February and March after some stray dogs from northwest Lyon County were brought to the shelter. Several dogs became sick with kennel cough symptoms before worsening, with one eventually displaying rabies-type symptoms before it had to be put down.
Derrick says the shelter has been thoroughly bleached several times, but dogs began showing symptoms again early this month. Final test results at Kansas State University are pending.