Virus closes humane society in north central Minn.

FERGUS FALLS — The Otter Tail County Humane Society will reopen Wednesday after a devastating virus killed several animals, forcing the animal shelter to close temporarily about 10 days ago.

The Humane Society has suspended accepting animals and facilitating pet adoptions due to a Parvovirus, said Ericka Stoltenberg, humane society manager.

Parvovirus is predominantly a disease of young puppies between six weeks and six months of age. Without treatment approximately 80 percent of affected puppies will die, according to the Web site "" The major clinical signs of Parvovirus are vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus at the Otter Tail County Humane society originated with a puppy brought to the center in late December, Stoltenberg said. The puppy was lethargic, had a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and was vomiting, she said.

''When we first noticed the symptoms we thought it was an isolated case. But by the second week of January we noticed more dogs had the symptoms," Stoltenberg said.


Four dogs, including the original puppy with the disease, have died at the center since the virus was detected. The Humane Society was shut down on the advice of the center's veterinarian, she said. It's been closed about a week and a half, Stoltenberg said.

The health of cats became a concern at the center, as well. A number of cats at the center came down with upper respiratory infections, something Stoltenberg says is common among cats in shelters. Cats do not contract the Parvovirus, however.

The virus at the humane society should run its course by Wednesday and the center plans to reopen, Stoltenberg said. There are steps that pet owners can take to ensure the future safety of all animals at the center, she said.

People need to make sure that a mother dog and her puppies are vaccinated. The best thing people can do is vaccinate their animals," Stoltenberg said.

People also need to be honest with humane society staff when bringing animals to the shelter.

''Many people say an animal is a stray when it's not. We need to know the truth if an owner is surrendering a pet so we know if its been vaccinated or has had any prior illnesses," she said.

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