Community Animal Rescue and Adoption (C.A.R.A.) decided, we are told, to kill every single cat (120) at their facility because of an outbreak of calicivirus. One of the volunteers who used to work there but who was ‘let go’, Kelli Ware, felt compelled to speak out. She said that it was impossible to test all the cats. She also said that of the few that were tested some came back negative for the calicivirus. This implies that testing was not thorough enough but I don’t know the full story. It is reported on the WJTV.com website.
The description of the evens begs the question as to whether management made the right decision in euthanising such a large number of cats. They will argue that they had to because, as we know, it is a highly contagious disease which can rapidly move through a shelter. It is one of the most common infectious diseases amongst cats.
There is, however, a wide variation in the severity of the illness. Some cats have mild symptoms while others suffer badly and it can even be fatal.
The treatment is to isolate infected cats for 3 to 4 weeks to avoid them infecting others. In addition bedding, bowls, cages et cetera need to be disinfected. Humans need to change their clothing and wear disposable shoe covers and washed hands frequently.
My reading of the treatment is that it takes time but with rest and feeding highly palatable foods together with other treatments such as cleaning secretions from the eyes nose and mouth and shrinking swollen nasal membranes, cats normally recover. This then further begs the question as to why it was impossible for this to be done. The C.A.R.A. post indicates that other shelters were unable to help.
All veterinarians will agree that calicivirus is treatable and it is preventable with vaccination. Questions are therefore being asked about the management at this facility.
I went to their Facebook page to see what they had to say. Management made an announcement on January 20 at 1:12 AM which you can see below. They do not mention, understandably, that they felt compelled to euthanise all 120 cats. You can see that they are making extensive changes including changes to the staff. They hint that either one or more staff member made a mistake by which I mean, to use their words, “veer from intake protocols and quarantine”.
One commenter on Facebook makes a very pertinent point about their post:
“This post does not sufficiently address what happens to the existing cat population. Do you not believe your supporters deserve this information?”
They obviously made a decision to euthanise with a heavy heart. It must have been devastating. It appears that some supporters might, in future, be withdrawing donations.
Kelli Ware said that she fears for other staff speaking out. There may be retaliation against them. She herself said:
“I know I’m gonna get retaliation for this, but I feel like my job is to speak for those the ones who don’t have a voice,” Ware said tearfully.
It seems that she is genuinely concerned about the ‘business’ because she wants it to succeed. She is concerned that not all options were exhausted although she recognises that it is a highly contagious virus.
The herpes virus is the other common URI infection causative agent.