An outbreak of deadline disease will shut down the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter for at least two weeks. In the meantime, it will not accept any strays or manage animal adoptions.
The sound of barking denoted signs of life from within the shelter, but the noises masked a morning marked by dozens of euthanizations.
"We showed up and they're telling us the dogs have diseases, the cats have diseases," said Hunter Armstead, a volunteer working at the shelter Wednesday.
A group of volunteers showed up thinking they'd be walking puppies and sitting with cats.
"We ended up cleaning the cages of animals that had been euthanized," Armstead said.
Donna Clark, the director of the shelter, told 13NEWS they put down several dogs for distemper on Wednesday after two animals tested positive for the deadly virus.
They also euthanized eight cats after finding several had panleukopenia. She said one animal probably infected the others.
"What we get here is everyone's throwaways," Clark said. "You get dogs that never have vaccines, dogs running loose."
Earlier on Wednesday, Clark had said they would put down all the animals to stamp out the disease. But just before 4 p.m., board members of the Kanawha-Charleston Humane
Association decided to hold a meeting Thursday morning instead to inspect which animals are actually sick. Two veterinaries will examine how healthy animals can be saved.
Workers will quarantine the healthy cats and dogs for the next two weeks while the shelter stays closed to the public.
But for some, it's too late.
"We just buried our puppy today," said Roger Beane, who adopted a dog from the shelter on December 4. "So we're going inside to see what exactly we can do about it."
Beane said he wants to be reimbursed for the $1,000 he spent to take care of the dog. He's afraid the distemper spread to his three other dogs.
"They're taking in animals they should be checking these dogs, but look how many they're putting down," Beane said.
Clark said they didn't notify pet owners sooner about the outbreak because they only found out the animals tested positive for the virus Tuesday. She added that the association could possibly reimburse owners if they can prove the dog they adopted at the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter recently tested positive for distemper.
Shelter employees vaccinate every animal that's brought in, but the injections are useless if the dog or cat is already infected, according to Clark.
She said testing every animal is "too expensive." While distemper tests vary from clinic to clinic, Clark estimated the average test costs $5. The Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter took in 10,000 animals last year.