Families open homes to dogs during shelter health scare - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Families open homes to dogs during shelter health scare

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A fast-spreading illness is putting dozens of shelter dogs at risk. (Source: WAFF) A fast-spreading illness is putting dozens of shelter dogs at risk. (Source: WAFF)

Tuesday, usually the slowest day of the week at Huntsville Animal Services, quickly became one of the busiest in memory following a health scare for the many dogs sheltered there.

A fast-spreading respiratory disease hit the facility, causing shelter officials to scramble, evacuating dogs so the building could be disinfected.

Officials said all 200-plus animals are at risk of being put down if they contract the virus. Animal Care Supervisor Karen Buchan said healthy dogs won't be put down, but those that become sick will.

"It's when you can't catch it in time," Buchan explained. "That is when it gets really severe. We are trying to get a real good handle on this."

The longer healthy dogs are at the shelter, and not in the homes of foster families or adopted outright, the risk of infection - and euthanasia - goes up.

Katie Bramlett came to the shelter Tuesday to double her canine family, bringing home two dogs in an effort to save their lives. They are two of the more than 30 dogs that were transferred out during the course of business.

Anna Marie Perrin left with one pup, but said she wishes she could do more.

"Oh, that kills me," she said about the dogs' situation. "I want to take all of them home if I could, which I can't. But I would love to."

Workers said the community needs to step up. One by one, every life could be saved.

"It almost brought us to tears because as you're walking around, you see some of their desolate faces," said Bramlett. "Some are not even barking or greeting you because they've been here for so long. And I am sure they must lose hope being in these cages. They need homes."

Supervisors said a virus is not necessarily uncommon; stray dogs come in unvaccinated with unknown illnesses.

Huntsville Animal Services is located at 4950 Triana Blvd. SW. Their phone number is 256-883-3782.

If you can't adopt or foster a dog, A New Leash on Life is taking donations for boarding.

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