Blountville animal shelter reopen, plans to build a new shelter in works


SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Now that the SBK Animal Shelter in Blountville, Tenn. is open again, leaders are focusing on two major issues: plans and funding for a new shelter that would prevent another spread of fatal viruses like the one that happened last month.

The Blountville shelter was quarantined for four weeks after 19 animals died or had to be put down from distemper and parvovirus.

The shelter's operations manager said the best way to prevent this from happening again is by getting your animals vaccinated.

"It's up to the public mainly to vaccinate their animals... because it takes only one to come in here and shut us down." Said Operations Manager Donna Davidson.

Davidson said another distemper outbreak happened just a few months ago. That case was so bad it shut down both the Blountville and Kingsport shelters.

For the past month the Blountville shelter has been going through disinfection.

"Everyday cleaning, even though they were closed, those kennels were still cleaned." Said Davidson

It takes about two weeks for the symptoms of distemper to appear.

The shelters don't test newly admitted animals for the virus.

"There's a way to test for distemper, it's very expensive. It's a PCR test and would require a blood testing, so it's not something you would do on every shelter animal." Explained Dr. Miranda Lilly, a veterinarian at Ferguson Animal Hospital.

Dr. Lilly said the best way to prevent another outbreak of distemper is by having new animals come into an isolated area for a few weeks to see if symptoms arise.

The SBK shelters want to build a new facility to have this additional space, but Sullivan County can't afford that right now.

"One we were looking at was around $3.5 million... it's still in the making. It's just going to be delayed a little."

The funding would apparently be shared by Sullivan County taxpayers and donors.

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