Hillsborough shelter shutdown affects animal agencies - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough shelter shutdown affects animal agencies

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The sudden partial closure of Hillsborough County's only shelter for stray or runaway dogs is impacting other local animal agencies.

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay's Executive Director Sherry Silk says they've been overwhelmed with calls since Monday's announcement.

"People are calling us and wanting to know if we'll take the strays and we just don't have the cage space for that," she said. "A lot of dogs get out of the backyard or out of the house. If people see them, normally they would pick them up, or call animal services and go there. And then you can go there and look for your animal. Now the animal is in limbo."

Related story: Viruses hit Hillsborough Animal Services

Hillsborough County Animal Services Director Ian Hallett said six dogs at the county shelter recently tested positive for uncommon flu-like viruses. The department decided to place all 230 dogs in the shelter in quarantine to control the spread of the coronavirus and pneumovirus.

The shelter generally takes in dozens of stray dogs each week. Intake is now limited to dangerous or sick dogs for the next two-weeks. Hallett urged people who find strays to help find temporary homes for them until the shelter reopens.

"The only way really to get rid of this virus in their environment is to have a completely clean space for two weeks. So they're being smart," said Dr. Diedre O'Malley at the Humane Society. "But it would be helpful if they could isolate the sick animals and still bring in strays so we don't have more of a community problem of strays being hit by cars, biting people, and getting sick."

The Humane Society has a big fundraiser Thursday night in South Tampa called Woofstock. Silk said several people have called to cancel because they're afraid their dogs will contract one of the viruses.

"These viruses are not born in the shelter, they come in from the outside," Hallett said Monday.

Despite his warning, Dr. O'Malley says animals in outdoor open spaces have little chance of contracting either virus. Woofstock will go on as scheduled.

"These viruses thrive in shelters. They thrive in an atmosphere where there's lots and lots of animals, low air flow, it's humid, hot," O'Malley said.

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