CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association will reopen its doors on Thursday, two weeks after it shut down over a canine distemper outbreak.
Executive Director Donna Clark said three dogs remain at the shelter following the outbreak but will be kept in kennels away from the general public. Clark said she does not think the dogs have distemper but they are being quarantined as a precaution.
"We wouldn't knowingly adopt anything out that was sick," she said.
New animals will be kept in the main kennel area.
Clark said shelter employees and volunteers have spent the last two weeks cleaning the facility with bleach and Lysol.
"We've just had to scrub, scrub, scrub," she said.
The shelter is already accepting new animals. Three dogs arrived over the last few days and were kept in a holding area away from the main shelter. Several stray cats also have arrived.
The shelter closed its doors Dec. 19 after many dogs came down with distemper and cats were found to have panleukopenia.
During an emergency meeting the next day, the humane association's board of directors unanimously voted to treat all of the animals it could, allow members of the public to adopt healthy animals and put down only dogs and cats that were beyond help.
Members of Dog Bless, a rescue group that works with the shelter, volunteered to place incoming strays with foster families.
Following the outbreak, Clark said the shelter probably would be less lenient with sick dogs.
"The shelter can't be totally full and house 20 or 30 sick animals and try to treat them," she said. "You just can't do it. The shelter wasn't constructed to do that."
The current shelter facility does not feature quarantine areas, so keeping sick dogs there endangers healthy animals. The shelter vaccinates every animal against distemper when it arrives, but Clark said they still could contract the disease before the shots take effect.
She said the best way to prevent future outbreaks is for pet owners to have their animals vaccinated against distemper and other disease. That way, if the animals ever enter the shelter, they won't infect other animals.
"People need to take care of their own," she said.
The shelter took in 113 dogs and 55 puppies in December. Veterinarians put down 31 dogs and 13 puppies that month and adopted out 129 dogs and 60 puppies.
Twenty-two dogs were returned to their owners, as well as one puppy.
Clark said those figures include animals put down before the outbreak, since her record-keeping system does not allow her to break the numbers down by day or week.
Last month, the shelter took in 40 cats and 36 kittens, euthanized 29 cats and six kittens and adopted out 23 cats and 42 kittens. No kittens or cats were returned to their owners.
Five parakeets, a ferret and three guinea pigs also were turned in and adopted last month.
Those numbers are much better than December 2011. Last year, the shelter took in 817 dogs and cats and put down 582 animals.
Rusty, a senior citizen dog featured in Tuesday's Daily Mail, still has not been adopted.
Stephanie Gomez, the shelter's secretary, said someone came in to look at the Labrador mix on Wednesday but did not adopt him.
Rusty arrived at the shelter Oct. 22. The person who brought him in said the dog had been wandering in the city. At some point, Rusty must have been loved -- he had on a flea collar -- but was abandoned.
Adoption fees for Rusty and the two other remaining dogs are already sponsored, but Clark said new pet parents should be aware there still are costs associated with adopting the animals. Families need to make sure they can afford veterinarian bills if the animals become sick later on.
Anyone interested in adopting an animal should call the shelter at 304-342-1576.