More than 60 dogs were euthanized Monday at the Clayton County Animal Control (CCAC) shelter in Jonesboro, Ga., only because they may have been infected with the H3N2 virus. Most dogs recover from this respiratory flu within 10 to 30 days.
“Treat all dogs like we treat our children. We don’t put our children to sleep when they get the sniffles,” Tandra Matthews, one of hundreds of people outraged by the killings, told 11Alive.
Dave Edwards is a rescue volunteer who monitors Atlanta Pit Bull Networking on social media. (The majority of the dogs killed Monday by CCAC were Pit Bulls, one of the breeds that the shelter only allows to be released to rescue groups.) Edwards told CBS46 Wednesday that rabies is the only disease he could think of that would automatically require such a “mass extermination” of shelter dogs.
Clayton County Police Deputy Chief Michael J. Register told CBS46 Friday the shelter was trying to protect the healthy dogs, and offered no further explanation.
“If we don’t euthanize the number of animals that are exhibiting symptoms, you run the risk of jeopardizing the whole facility,” Register said. He said the infected dogs were quarantined last weekend, and then killed Monday.
When asked if the shelter had considered providing medicine to the infected dogs, Register said it had not.
The symptoms of the dogs killed were “coughing, running nose and sneezing,” according to a statement released Friday by the Clayton County Police Department. The department did not say whether the dogs were even confirmed to actually have H3N2.
After an assessment was completed by veterinarian medical personnel, those alleged experts recommended that the sick animals be euthanized, the police department stated.
Coughing, a running nose and sneezing are also symptoms of kennel cough, a contagious respiratory illness that is common in animal shelters. In fact, earlier this year, a shelter in Gwinnett County, Ga., experienced a kennel cough outbreak. Did its veterinarian medical personnel advise the shelter to kill the sick dogs? No way. Those dogs were quarantined while the shelter was disinfected.
In response to public complaints at a meeting Tuesday night, Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeffrey Turner told CBS46 he agrees that something needs to be changed at the shelter. Back in 2009, Clayton County voters approved construction of a new shelter, but six years later, nothing has been done.
Turner said he predicted a new shelter could be completed in 18 months.
As of June, the H3N2 virus has spread to 13 U.S. states. Most at risk for becoming infected with this flu are puppies, older dogs and dogs with weakened immune systems. Many dogs that have it show no symptoms at all. Click here for tips for preventing your dog from becoming infected.