Inexcusable actions by Harnett County Animal Shelter concerning panleuk outbreak

News of the inexcusable actions by the Harnett County Animal Shelter is making the rounds on social media today on how a recent panleuk (feline panleukopenia also called: feline parvovirus, aka ‘parvo’) outbreak was handled by the Lillington, North Carolina facility.

Killed at Harnett County Shelter
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Animal advocate Susan Shaddock explained it best in a statement she wrote up about how many animals, both in cat rescues as well as forever homes, have been put at risk.

“UPDATE: there was parvo in the shelter last week. The shelter posted a notice on its website today, contacted adopters and rescues. Too bad they didn’t care enough to be so conscientious about the cats.

RE THE CATS: Last Wednesday Steve Berube, the shelter manager, was notified that a kitten pulled by rescue had tested positive for panleukopenia. He did nothing. He did not notify anyone, adopters or rescues, did not quarantine the cats, and allowed cats/kittens to be adopted out afterward. Nothing was done until there was an outcry from a local animal advocate. Then they found a dead kitten, which they sent to the lab for necropsy. The results are positive for panleukopenia. All cats in the shelter are being killed.

In a shelter where a responsible protocol is observed, incoming animals are vaccinated and quarantined until their health status can be determined. In Harnett, no. They claim they can’t afford to vaccinate but they are charging $30 for each animal pulled. What does that $30 cover? That $30 could vaccinate almost 20 cats. A rescue asked that question but has not been answered.

As is always the case, the community will be asked to excuse the incompetence of the shelter manager. We will be told that is was “just a mistake” and it won’t happen again. It happens over and over. It needs to stop. This shelter needs management that actually cares about the animals, not somebody who endangers animals and then becomes rude, defensive and belligerent when confronted.

From shelter web page: “Cat and Kitten Adoptions On Hold Until further notice, all Cat and Kitten adoptions to the public and rescues are on hold.”

Rest in Peace

What is WRONG with animal shelters this year? The failure to provide a very inexpensive vaccination to protect the cats in their care along with no notice issued to those who are in possession of exposed felines may even put a few cat rescues out of operation.All of the cats in the shelter were killed due to exposure.

The shelter manager, whom I gather is named Steve, eventually contacted those who rescued or adopted the cats.

Another sweet kitten killed

Steve has been told by the shelter veterinarian that he needs to “disinfect” the shelter. Isn’t that a no-brainer? Shelters are a breeding ground for illness for cats and dogs. It should be common sense to follow a proven cleaning protocol on a daily basis. Not just during an outbreak. It also sounds as though Steve should read up on the benefits of vaccinating upon intake. Although the final decision comes from the Board of Commissioners, a shelter director should push for protection against disease.

This whole mess was avoidable but is typical of the actions of many shelters who appear to care very little about the animals in their care. An album of the dead can be found here.

Please feel free to add to the issues that need correction at this shelter

  • failure to vaccinate – vaccination at shelters is essential.
  • no proven cleaning protocol
  • failure to warn rescues and adopters of highly contagious and potentially fatal illness
  • unnecessary euthanasia since all cats may not have been infected
  • poor use of funds (what WAS the $30 fee spent on?)

Your comments are welcome.


29 thoughts on “Inexcusable actions by Harnett County Animal Shelter concerning panleuk outbreak”

  1. Update, a year later: Community outrage, and a bright light shining on the practices of the shelter management, has produced a great deal of positive change. Chiefly, the manager, Steve, has been stripped of his responsibilities over shelter animals and is now in charge of “animal control” (ie field) operations only, where he continues to be responsible for some awful abuses (long story about a loose bull) with impunity. We’re pretty sure he has dirt on somebody; there is no other reason for keeping someone this incompetent in a job where he has control over the fates of living beings. Even his field staff complains to me about his incomprehensible sloth and apathy. But as to the shelter: the new manager, who came on around the first of the year, has made this shelter a different place. It has been reorganized with a quarantine room and a sick room for cats. A foster program has been implemented. Rescue groups are appreciated and actively “courted.” Vaccines and combo tests are now available. The walls have been repainted in cheerful, attractive, non-institutional colors and the staff is pleasant and relaxed even during very busy times. It makes a big difference for them when their supervisor actually works rather than spending the day on Facebook or smoking outside.

    The changes were possible because the Commissioners deemed that they should be made, and they took that action because the public insisted that they do so. Loudly. Forty people attended the Commissioners’ meeting after this mass euthanasia and a petition was presented with about 2,000 signatures. The local newspaper, which typically cheerleads for the County, published an objective article and there was minor coverage from other local media. There are still changes to be made — the shelter is woefully understaffed and underfunded — but change WILL occur so long as we citizens continue to communicate to our elected officials the changes we want to see.

  2. I fostered 4 kittens from that disgusting place. They were scheduled to die on Wednaesday. I was on vacation and said I would foster if someone could pull. 2Paws Up pulled and I picked them up from a guy in Raleigh when I got back to town. They were infested with fleas and skinny. I found homes for all 4 (I ended up with one). Friends adopted the others. When I read how they treat animals, it breaks my heart. Could’ve been my 4 being euthanized… ugh. Step it up or shut down Harnett! And why do people take their pets and strays there anyway? It’s public knowledge how awful they are.

  3. L D…..Were you talking about Harnett County’s Shelter or Rowan County?
    I am so sorry you were not allowed to adopt the cat you wanted! That was a pretty pathetic excuse you were given, in my opinion! Sounds to me like they actually WERE trying to HIDE SOMETHING….ESPECIALLY if they had the cat in an area where it couldn’t be seen! That was an automatic death sentence for those cats stacked in there! That’s disgusting!
    Marina Burt….has anyone contacted you about getting something done, as you suggested?

  4. There are many, many horror stories & it’s been going on for decades. No more talk — time to organize for reform — how do we get started?

  5. Has anyone ever been to this shelter? I have. It’s a death sentence to almost any animal that passes through its doors. Of course they don’t vaccinate, every animal only has a week to live, unless they are adopted. When I was there they had cages in a garage stacked floor to ceiling with cats that never were even put up for adoption. I begged to be able to take a cat in one of those cages, but turned down because it had a cut on its nose and I was told that if anyone saw it they might think it was abused at the shelter.


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