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
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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. The dead-virus (or genetically manipulated strains of it which are unable to reproduce) are injected into the animal. This triggers the animal’s immune response to mount a defense against any future contact with that viral pathogen. Even this takes time for the animal’s immune system to do so. For example: in the case of rabies vaccines it takes 28 days or more for the animal to build-up a defense against it after the initial vaccination, and this is only if the animal already has a healthy immune system (not infected with FIV or other immunity-compromising infections). This means that they can contract rabies until that time-period has passed if released outdoors again too soon and come in contact with rabies.

    Kittens do not have a working immune system until after many months old.

    This is the very same reason that so many kittens taken from outdoor colonies pass on rabies to any adopters of those kittens too.

    • Beth, I appreciate your comment but I have amended it slightly without altering what you intend to state as parts where unnecessarily rude.

    • Having read the article and your comment I don’t see the relevance of your comment. What point are you making?

      • Once an animal is infected with the live virus a vaccine will not prevent it nor cure it. A vaccine has to be given long before there is a viral infection.

        The same for rabies. If a cat already has rabies a vaccination will not cure it of rabies. It will go on do die and possibly transmit rabies(if it bites or scratches anyone during the last 2 weeks before it dies of rabies, or someone gets the cat’s saliva or freshly-dried saliva from a cat’s coat in a wound or their mouth. This can happen as much as 11 months later — the longer incubation period for rabies, average incubation period for that virus in an animal is about 6 months.

  2. This is so inexcusable! As others have done, we ask told Steve about low cost vaccines via Zoetis and his response was they couldn’t afford it! Seriously?
    Is euthanasia cheaper than vaccinating? Does the village of idiots know how to clean to rid the cages of PL?
    What is up with LOOKING at cats and kittens and deeming them “OK”
    You don’t SEE it until the poor things are near dead. Incompetence at its finest.
    Get these tools OUT of Harnett before even more lose their lives!!!

  3. I’m very sensitive to shelter secrecy on panleuk because that’s what put an end to our rescuing cats. The shelter didn’t tell us we had half a dozen kittens coming down with it. The day after we pulled them they killed every kitten under 4 months old. A lot of rescues were infected because of secrecy. People even adopted exposed cats. It was a nightmare.

  4. I will not stand up for any shelter, and I do not agree with any of these wrong doings. However, you all realize that when the public finds out a shelter has a case of Panluek, they won’t adopt ANY of the cats. All the healthy cats will be on top of the already nonhealthy. The manager should have notified rescues, b/c they get so many out at one time, but to let the entire county know, will hurt every single cat in there. Breaks my heart this has happened. I hope they get their shit together & start vaccinating/testing these animals as soon as they come into the door! No excuses.

    • Isabell if this shelter quarantined and vaccinated at intake this would not have happened. They vaccinate and deworm puppies. They do nothing for kittens.

  5. I have no words for the way these animals are treated. I was in there a few weeks ago to adopt a kitten and was appauled by the fly infested cages these cats were living in. I immediately went up to Steve, the manager and he Just sat in his chair outside and did nothing about it. After talking with Jeffries and Blevins, I was verbally assured that changes would be made. Obviously not. Now 55 cats and kittens are dead and it all lies on those who are in charge. Way to go guys. Looking good! Negligence and ignorance is the problem. Still, nothing changes and now dead kitties. They should be ashamed of themselves. No question but it is up to us to be the voice of the animals.

  6. OMC. Tears. Prayers for all the poor kittens and cats that lost their lives due to this act of negligence. 🙁


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