Animal shelter shuts down intake of cats
Marc Bence/For Metro Edmonton
An outbreak of a deadly disease has killed dozens of cats, forcing the Edmonton Humane Society to temporarily shut down its intake of cats while everything the infected animals have touched is burned or sanitized.
About two weeks ago, several cats at the animal shelter quickly developed symptoms and died from feline distemper, a viral infection that attacks the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
"It’s a horrible, debilitating, excruciating disease," said Diane Shannon, spokeswoman for the Humane Society.
The virus quickly spread throughout the shelter, infecting roughly 25 cats that either quickly died or had to be euthanized.
"We just realized that we need to close the doors, not admit any more cats, and really just monitor everything," she told Metro yesterday. "This will allow us to get control of the situation."
The shelter will not be accepting cats for roughly two weeks, she said, except for felines that are already vaccinated — which accounts for only a small minority of typical pet donations.
In 2004, the shelter developed a new "pod" system of housing animals to help control outbreaks, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the spread of the virus.
Dr. K. Lange, a veterinarian at the shelter, said its "open-door" policy means even ill animals are accepted — and one cat infected with distemper can easily devastate a large group of animals.