Controlling Disease

One of the greatest challenges that we have is to control disease in our animal shelter.  The problem begins with a community that fails to vaccinate their pets and allows them to roam to deposit or collect viruses in the community.  The animals are then brought to the animal shelter.

Most animal shelters vaccinate pets on intake.  The problem is that it takes weeks for the vaccine to take effect.  In that time, the animal can be exposed to other pets entering the shelter to spread of collect disease to or from those animals.

The greatest vector for disease in the shelter is people.  If staff does not take the proper precautions, they may spread disease from animal to animal while cleaning or feeding their animals.  Allowing the public to come in and view animals is the greatest mechanism for spreading disease throughout the shelter; no matter how we instruct our citizens to not touch the animals, they cannot control themselves and feel the need to touch one animal after another, becoming the greatest vector for spreading disease within a shelter.

I often encourage people wanting to surrender their pets to wait until their pet has been fully vaccinated for 30 days, so as to allow the vaccinations to take hold and offer the animal some protection from entering the shelter.

It is a good idea to not move animals around within the shelter.  There is nothing worse that to experience an outbreak in your shelter to find that the carrier of the disease had been moved previously throughout the shelter exposing other animals.  Outbreaks are the most common in shelter that operate at capacity or beyond capacity.  Managing the shelter population aids in managing disease.