by: Jim Strickland Updated:
BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - A contagious virus has forced dozens of animals to be removed from the Bartow County Animal Shelter.
The state has now placed the Cartersville facility under a cat quarantine.
Animal control officers say the cats were exposed to feline distemper, an especially contagious virus that came in from a single cat, either stray or surrendered, that didn't have the proper vaccination.
The county and the Etowah Humane Society convinced the Fur Kids rescue in Doraville to take the cats in hopes that they can be cleared for adoption. Monday morning, dozens of cats got shots and were then loaded up for a trip to the rescue in DeKalb County. Some of the cats are already symptomatic and will receive medical treatment.
"It's a very ugly disease," Animal Control Deputy Director Tommy Gentry said. "Right now, we can't even pet them. We can't even touch them."
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Three cats have already been euthanized and even veteran animal control employees are feeling it.
“Twenty-seven years of doing it, it gets a little rough when a cat’s put to sleep for no reason,” Gentry said. "You can't save them all but the ones you can save are very gratifying."
Feline distemper is the same disease as Parvo in dogs. It starts with vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration and often leads to death.
Gentry says Bartow County residents are getting frustrated that animal control is unable to respond to cat calls.
He says the county is scrubbing down the facility and they hope to be reopened to cats within the next 72 hours.
Fur Kids says the cats will remain quarantined until July 9, then will be free for adoption. In the meantime, the rescue is looking for donors to help defray the cost.
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