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Illness Closes Catawba County Animal Shelter

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100826b.mp3

A mysterious disease outbreak has forced the Catawba County Animal Shelter to temporarily shut down and dispose of the cats and dogs in its care. Shelter workers noticed animals coming down with fever, diarrhea and vomiting a month ago and started doing tests, but still haven't been able to determine what the illness is. They do know that it's highly contagious. "It seems to have run across all the animals we have - both male and female, dogs and cats, young, old," says Jennifer Rice, a spokeswoman for Catawba County Emergency Services. The animal shelter was shutdown on Wednesday to allow for complete sanitization. And sadly, Rice says all 200 or so animals currently at the shelter will have to be euthanized. "We don't feel like, in good faith, we can allow these animals to be adopted when there's a potential even without them showing signs and symptoms that they could infect other animals in the community," says Rice. Overcrowding at the shelter may have contributed to the spread of disease. Until the shelter reopens in early September, Rice says people will not be able to surrender unwanted animals or strays they pick up. However, Catawba County animal control will still respond to calls of dangerous or abused animals and will house them in tents.