Hillsborough Animal Services is so concerned about two new dog viruses at the shelter that they are suspending dog adoptions and limiting the intake of dogs.
Since the announcement, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay has received numerous phone calls from people looking for a place to drop off stray dogs.
"I'm very concerned, because we're getting the phone calls of 'what do I do because I found this stray dog running down the street,'" said Sherry Silk, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. "The calls so far this morning have been overwhelming. People really don't know what to do."
Animal Services has quarantined all of its 232 dogs. That means no dogs in and no dogs out of the shelter for the next two weeks. Director Ian Hallett says it's the only way to control the spread of the viruses, which are treatable.
"If you have found a lost dog, you could help the shelter greatly by hanging on to that dog and posting fliers in your neighborhood," Hallett said Monday.
Silk hopes Animal Services re-evaluates their plan.
"People turn to us thinking that we have extra cages to hold strays, and we do not," she said.
The Humane Society doesn't house strays. They're an adoption agency. Typically, they would send strays to Animal Services.
"People are going to be forced to just leave them there on the street. I don't think that's a good alternative for those animals, and remember these viruses are treatable, clearly," Silk said.
The coronavirus and the more serious pneumovirus are upper respiratory illnesses that infect dogs only. Marilyn and Bill Daily of Tampa are concerned about their 3-month-old puppy MacKenzie. She gets her next round of vaccines Thursday. But, there are no vaccines for either virus, which have infected several dogs at Animal Services.
"I want to make sure that she's not susceptible to this virus, and if she is, what can we do to prevent it," said Marilyn Daily.
Vets at the Humane Society say dog owners like Marilyn and Bill shouldn't be alarmed, because the viruses are mostly in shelters.
"You're in an environment where the air supply isn't as good. You're not outside running around," said Dr. Deidre O'Malley.
And Dr. O'Malley put one concern to rest. She says neither virus thrives in places like dog parks.
Animal Services is taking in dogs that are sick, injured, or dangerous. It is the only shelter for stray dogs in the county.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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