The Sandy Animal Shelter in Sandy, Utah has left the animal rescue community in an uproar after ten cats and three bunnies were euthanized over the weekend due to a panleuk outbreak.
First, let’s take a look at shelter practices in general in Sandy and this tragedy in particular.
- the shelter doesn’t vaccinate on intake
- the shelter doesn’t have a veterinarian on staff to treat sick cats
- the shelter allegedly failed to reach out to more than one rescue about taking on the cats and bunnies instead of killing them
Nicole Hellstrom posted on the KUTV2News Facebookwall on May 18
“https://sandy.utah.gov/…/animal-…/animal-in-the-shelter/cats sandy city euthed all their cats the last 2 days because some or one was positive for panleuk. There is no way all of these cats tested positive..no chance was given for rescues to get them out. Also, if they were vaccinating on intake and following recommended protocol no other cats should have gotten sick. If they kill everyone every time a cat tests positive, they’ll be killing everyone all summer. This is not being committed to any kill goal they are supposed to be aiming for. Citizens have a right to know how they handle their animals.”
Sandy Police Lt. Dean Carringer explained the situation at the Sandy shelter during an interview with KUTV News stating
“It’s always tragic to lose any animal but we gotta look at the protection of all animals here at the facility.
Carriger added that 9 of 10 cats euthanized were feral cats that had been brought into the shelter to be neutered and spayed with the intention of releasing them back to the feral cat community.
Once distemper was detected, he said it wouldn’t have been wise to release the cats back to the wild with the chances of spreading the highly contagious virus.”
Distemper (panleuk) in cats can be highly contagious and potentially life-threatening. It attacks the red blood cells in the intestinal tract, bone marrow and stem cells. It can cause anemia and viral as well as bacterial illnesses.
While only one cat tested positive, all of the cats were killed after several started showing symptoms of panleuk.
Jessica Vigos with Whiskers Cat Rescue posted the following on Facebook and has asked for help in sharing and in contacting officials. She told 2News:
“I do not agree with them trying to justify not vaccinating on intake. They left out a large part of UC Davis recommendations that still says vaccines are recommended in Shelter populations, we have multiple other shelters to prove that this is a highly effective tool for prevention.
Reaching out to one rescue in this situation is not enough. The shelter states it was not every cat but we have no way of knowing how many without doing an official request…It was many listed on the website.”
To the residents Jessica states
“Your local animal shelter killed every cat in their shelter today. A city shelter that is not vaccinating the cats on intake(upon entering the shelter), not following the commitments they made to be “no kill” (reaching out to rescue for sick animals) and clearly a huge lack of education, proper contagion control and procedures in place to prevent this.
This type of egregious lack of proper protocols is unacceptable!
If you are contacting city officials or the shelter please make sure that you are respectful and educated in your response. Again this post is not to bash the shelter but to get them up to speed with the recommendations of UC Davis and animal sheltering. They need to be vaccinating on intake, reaching out to Rescue for sick animals and have proper contagion control to prevent disease outbreaks!”
Jessica says it wasn’t necessary to kill all of the cats. That it’s not right to euthanize an entire room because one cat is sick and following proper training protocols that transmission is highly unlikely. Shelters and rescues need to work together to help the animals, Jessica added.
A contact form can be found here.
Most adult cats have been exposed to panleuk at one time or another and can fight off the illness if they don’t have a compromised immune system. Kittens are the ones at risk, with as many as 90% dying if not treated early and aggressively (including core vaccines on intake).
Is any more information available on whether all of the cats are killed? Any phone numbers that need to be added to contact the ‘powers that be?’ Please post additional information in the comment section below.
NOTE: You can view those who lost their lives here. Take a good look at the photos. Study the two I’ve posted to this article. These are NOT the faces of feral cats. They most likely were community cats, but a feral would be in full ‘ears back’ mode for photos.