It took a little longer than expected, but the Clay County Humane Shelter reopened for business last week.
The shelter was closed for nearly a month due to an outbreak of Parvo, a highly contagious virus which attacks the lining of the digestive system of dogs and puppies.
"We were finally able to reopen on Jan. 31," Humane Society Director of Operations Bill Cochran said. "The initial hope was to start business again on Jan. 23, but we had another dog come down with Parvo and we had to wait a little longer."
Cochran said the staff worked diligently to clean and disinfect the entire shelter and had an inspection done on Jan. 28, which came back with a passing grade, allowing the shelter to reopen.
"I cannot express how grateful I am to all the staff and volunteers who helped us get the shelter back in order," he said. "We spent a lot of time cleaning and I truly appreciate the patience the residents of Clay County has shown during the time we were closed."
The outbreak began in dogs and puppies which were dropped off at the shelter.
Currently the shelter asks for a voluntary donation when an animal is dropped off, but the Humane Society Board is considering making it a mandatory fee.
"Many counties around us already have a drop-off fee in place, but the board is still researching it further before we make a final decision on it," Humane Society Board President Todd Pierce said. "We always accept donations at anytime, whether it be for cleaning supplies or shelter upkeep, they are always greatly appreciated."
In the meantime, Cochran encourages all pet owners to make sure their animals are vaccinated to keep them healthy.
"Ideally for puppies, it is best to get them a series of inoculations at 6-, 10, 14-, and 18-20-weeks-old as they slowly get over their milk immunity from their mother," he said. "However, I understand some people are not able to afford to do this, but they should at least try to get their puppies a 5-way shot, which includes a vaccination for Parvo, when they are 18-20-weeks-old."
Cochran also said it is critical for the shelter to follow this procedure with all the animals they receive and pet owners should make sure to get their adult pets vaccinated once a year.
Details regarding the shelter's annual shot clinic are starting to come into focus as well.
"We had to change one of the days we were planning to hold the clinic, and it will now take place on May 10 and 17," Pierce said.
While costs for the clinic are still up in the air, it will still be held at the Forest Park Pavilion and will run from 1-4 p.m. each day.
The shelter will also be hosting a fish fry on April 19 at Kennedy Crossing Preschool, with times and prices yet to be determined.
Pierce also said the shelter and board are working with the Clay County Sheriff's Department and Clay County Commissioners on an ordinance which would help maintain the welfare and safety of animals around the county.
"In part, it will also help to shut down puppy mills that are not keeping the best interest of the animals in mind," Pierce said. "We don't want to close down a business if we don't have to, but we need to make sure the proper treatment of animals is maintained in the county and I look forward to working with (Clay County) Sheriff Mike Heaton and the commissioners to get this done."
The Humane Society Board will hold their monthly meeting Feb. 11, at 6 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, 210 N Walnut St., Brazil. Pierce said the public is welcome and those attending the meeting should use the back entrance along Franklin St.
For questions, or to volunteer or join the Clay County Humane Society, contact the shelter at 446-5126.