A deadly virus raging at the Waterbury Animal Shelter claimed another victim on Monday, raising the casualty count to six dogs in less than six months.
The shelter closed its doors and quarantined its animals after a pit bull died of parvo earlier this week. The shelter will remain shut down for two weeks while the city works to disinfect the facility and checks the other animals being housed there.
Six shelter dogs have died of parvo since January, and Lisa Marie Pinto’s Chihuahua was one of them.
“If you find a dog in Waterbury, don’t even bring it to that pound, because it’s almost like a death sentence for them,” Pinto said. Her adopted dog Sonny died of the virus two weeks after she brought him home.
City officials admit parvo is a growing concern. They worry the virus may have contaminated the building itself and could be harbored by the shelter floor. Officials plan to run tests on the facility.
“We did seal the floors within the last year,” said Deputy Police Chief Fred Spagnolo. “We want to make sure that’s working.”
Spagnolo says the shelter is following protocol by testing dogs for parvo as soon as they’re brought in and keeping them in quarantine when test results come back positive.
But sometimes symptoms don’t develop until much later, and by then it’s too late.
“It’s frustrating,” said Spagnolo. “It’s very challenging.”
The state Department of Agriculture is keeping a close watch on the shelter sand says the city is doing all the right things.
“They’re taking every precaution they possibly can,” said Ray Connors of the Dept. of Agriculture State Animal Control Division. “They’re going above and beyond.”
Spagnolo said the situation is difficult because dogs come to the pound with no known medical history, so it’s not clear which animals have been vaccinated and which have not.
“You have to remember, these dogs are coming off the street,” Spagnolo said.
Nearly a dozen dogs remain in quarantine while the city works to eradicate the virus.