Contagious infection at Hancock shelter could put 40 dogs down - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Contagious infection at Hancock shelter could put 40 dogs down

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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Dog flu has hit the Hancock County Animal Shelter, and the lives of 40 dogs are in jeopardy. The shelter has been temporarily closed, and efforts are underway to prevent contagious infection from spreading to animals in the community.

WLOX News took a closer look at what's being done to stop the animal health crisis.

Workers are using bleach to sanitize the shelter from top to bottom. It's a precaution advised by the state health department.

"Being that we don't know what it is, and that it has broke out among all of the animals here at the shelter, it is highly contagious," said Toni Accardo, Director of the Hancock County Animal Shelter.

"So there for we want to protect the ones that are currently here in the shelter and also the ones that can possibly come in from catching it. So we have closed down the shelter. Nothing is coming in and nothing is going out."

The shelter has been closed for a week, and officials say it will be closed for at least another week and a half while they clean and figure out what's going on there.

"Dogs are coughing with snotty noses so were checking to make sure it's not K9 influenza, which is dog flu. The veterinarian that came and assessed everyone does believe that it is K9 influenza so she wanted to do some testing on the animals that were showing the signs and symptoms to send off to the state lab to make sure."

She says the infection cannot be spread to cats, but the 40 dogs there will likely have to be euthanized.

"This is definitely a heart breaking and sad situation, but sometimes it's the best decision to make because we don't want to infect the others and possibly spread it throughout our community."

To make sure the dog flu isn't spread outside the shelter workers must change their clothes before leaving the building.

Test results from the state health department lab are expected back Friday. Shelter leaders hope to have the facility reopened by February 18.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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