Letter To The Editor: Thank You Los Alamos County Animal Shelter / Special Kudos To Chief Sgambellone!

By KELLI GUIDER
Los Alamos Friends of the Shelter

Los Alamos Friends of the Shelter wants to thank the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter for its quick and decisive response to containing the spread of parvovirus that recently sickened two shelter puppies. These puppies came to our shelter from another facility with an extremely high euthanasia rate due to space constraints. 

Transfers of this type give the animals that remain in that shelter a better chance of adoption in that community. In return, our community shelter gains a more diverse pool of adoptable animals. Active transfer programs save lives on both ends of the transfer relationship. The intake of any animal into our shelter (transfer, stray or owner surrender) brings the risk of disease transmission, which is why the vaccination status of all animals is confirmed upon intake. If unvaccinated, lapsed vaccinations or unknown vaccination status, the animals are immediately given lifesaving, preventive vaccinations.

All animals taken in are initially vaccinated with a combination vaccine, with boosters given every three weeks for puppies and kittens until they are about 16 weeks of age. This schedule helps to protect the widest range of animals. We also realize that in the face of an infection due to the window of susceptibility, some litters will contract a disease (e.g., parvo) despite being vaccinated. By using quality vaccines and an aggressive vaccination protocol, the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter can make this window of susceptibility as small as possible. It is impossible to predict which animals are more susceptible than others so every animal received is handled identically.

We understand that the ill puppies are responding well to treatment with a positive prognosis for recovery. Kudos to Chief (Dino) Sgambellone for authorizing treatment for these fragile pups. We are indeed fortunate for such a compassionate decision. Many if not most public shelters immediately euthanize puppies sick with parvovirus and sometimes their kennel mates. Our shelter has been thoroughly disinfected and will reopen today (Jan. 10). None of the adult dogs at our shelter were at elevated risk for disease as they all were up to date on their vaccinations.

 The public should remember that parvovirus is present throughout the environment, especially in areas where dogs congregate frequently, such as dog parks.  It is persistent in the outdoor environment for a very long period of time.  Please do your part to keep our canine population healthy by keeping vaccinations up to date and picking up after your dog.  And, if you have a chance, take a moment to thank your shelter staff, animal control officers, and volunteers for their hard work and commitment.

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