Volunteer choked up about euthanizing all the cats at animal shelter

Sullivan County Animal Shelter cats now dead
Sullivan County Animal Shelter cats now dead
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

All the cats (up to 60) have been euthanised at the Sullivan County Animal Shelter because a kitten adopted from the shelter was diagnosed with feline panleukopenia (feline distemper or parvo).

The other cats were evaluated and the decision to kill them all was made.

Animal shelter volunteer tears up
Animal shelter volunteer tears up at a meeting

However, one volunteer referred to ‘Kitty’, a cat recently brought in on the death of the owner, and said she did not have to be euthanised.

“Things could have been handled differently. The outcome could have been different” – shelter volunteer

They are saying that the shelter director was not experienced enough.

How do they decide to kill them all? They were playing safe I guess and starting afresh. Kitty could have come into contact with the infected kitten and perhaps the shelter felt they did not have the time or resources to monitor her for signs of the infection. However, they do have foster carers working with the shelter.

Resources and experience

Perhaps I am being naive and impractical but at least some of the cats could have been saved if sufficient resources were in place. Couldn’t they have evaluated and monitored all the cats? Apparently not. This a complicated matter. With unlimited resources lives could be saved but it appears that the practical and pragmatic albeit very sad decision was to start again by clearing out the entire shelter. It’s brutal and perhaps a factor is the relatively low worth of the lives of shelter animals in the eyes of some.

Best Disinfectant for Feline Viruses

Minimize contagion

Feline distemper can be minimised by vaccination on intake, a good disinfecting protocol and quarantining cats on intake for evaluation. Perhaps this is too demanding for some shelters or am I missing the point?

The quarantine strategy is one where all cats with unknown health status on intake are held in quarantine for long enough to evaluate their health before placing them among the general shelter population.


5 thoughts on “Volunteer choked up about euthanizing all the cats at animal shelter”

  1. I used to work as an animal shelter employee about 30 years ago. I hated the days we had to euthanize animals because they had been there to long. I do believe the shelter has changed the policy, but not really sure. I have moved away from the area. I only lasted on the job about 6 months, because I could no longer help in this process. There needs to be more no kill shelters and also much more education for the public to spay or neuter their pets. I had 2 male dogs that were not neutered, but they never mated because of our diligence to keep them away from fertile females. Thanks for listening to my rant.

  2. The shelter in my County (Harnett, NC) euthanized 59 cats two years ago because of panleuk. The shelter manager at the time could not have cared less about the shelter cats. The community made its feelings known and he is no longer the shelter manager — but he still is manager of the field “animal control” department. He really should be fired or at least transferred to sanitation or some function which does not involve control of or contact with any living being.

    • Yes. I also don’t understand. Surely, some of these cats had been vaccinated prior to it. Some may have been in the shelter for some time. For those newly brought in, don’t shelters normally ask for vaccination history?

      I am not even mentioning the possibility to quarantine cats and observe them, and ensure that new cats are vaccinated.

      I’ve just looked it up. The incubation period for panleukopenia is 2 weeks. Surely, it’s not that long. Additionally, the vaccination takes effect immediately, within hours. So they could’ve vaccinated all cats with unknown vaccination status, ensure any new cat someone brings is vaccinated and observed existing cats for 2 weeks.


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