Animal shelter reaches capacity after disease discovered

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control (ACC) issued an urgent plea Tuesday to the public to help foster and adopt dogs after their intake kennel reached capacity following an infectious virus outbreak.

They said the assistance is critical to prevent dogs from being euthanized.

ACC veterinary staff performed routine testing for canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) pathogens in the dog population and found that pneumovirus had been introduced to the shelter.

Officials said the dogs that they found to be infected were put into a separate kennel from the adoption-ready dogs.


Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is sounding the alarm as a contagious virus continues to spread, infecting dogs.

However, since the virus is highly infectious, there is concern about its continued spread, and healthy dogs need to be removed from the shelter.

The ACC said fostering or adopting a dog would reduce the risk of the virus transmitting at the shelter.

Terri Mersentes has been volunteering at Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control for more than eight years, helping save animals.

But right now, many dogs are sick as the virus outbreak continues to spread and others are now dying.

“We are saying this amongst our whole volunteer community that our hearts are breaking every day,” Mersentes said.

The ACC is having to euthanize dogs with behavioral problems and others that are sick.

“You do have to make rough decisions and nobody wants to euthanize animals, especially if we know if these animals can have a live outcome,” said Dave Walesky, the executive director of the ACC.

Dave Walesky, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control executive director


Dave Walesky speaks about the urgent need for people to adopt dogs at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

About 20 percent of the dogs at the ACC are showing symptoms or are under treatment for pneumovirus.

“We have so many animals right now that it’s very hard to manage this virus outbreak,” Walesky said.

Officials said dogs are being surrendered constantly because of South Florida’s housing crisis.

“People are forced to leave their homes and abandon their animals, sadly, because they have to relocate to a property that won’t allow other animals,” Mersentes said.

“We need the public’s help in getting some of these animals out of here so that we can get the pneumovirus under control,” Walesky said. “It’s very urgent that we get animals out of here.”

If you are interested in helping, visit the shelter’s website to select a dog, then complete the adoption application and email it to the address on the form.

Once an application is submitted, you can come in to meet and pick up your new pet.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control is located at 7100 Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach.


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