‘Worst case scenario’

Meaghan Philpott
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Cat shelter closed after seven animals euthanized with unidentified illness

CORNER BROOK — An unidentified illness is spreading to cats housed at the old fire station in Curling that were retrieved from a house on McWhirter’s Lane in May.

LeeAnn O’Reilly, of the NL West BOI SPCA, said the group is treating the situation as a “worst case scenario, as if they were all infected.”

The doors to the shelter have been closed, and only staff trained in diseased cats will handle the animals.

O’Reilly said she will not say how many cats have been infected, only that “several” displayed symptoms as of Sunday evening. The group is working under the direction of Dr. Hugh Whitney, the province’s chief veterinary officer to address the issue. The illness appears to be respiratory-based, with eye and nasal discharge. The SPCA hopes to have a diagnosis sometime today.

All the cats have been vaccinated and declared perfectly healthy, since they were seized by the SPCA in the spring. It is unknown if the illness is a threat to humans, O’Reilly said.

She said it is fortunate the cats have gone so long without an illness breakout.

“We’ve been warned,” she said. “When you get a lot of animals into a tight and confined space the rate for infection is much higher.”

The unidentified illness presented itself early last week, when shelter staff noticed typically playful healthy cats were becoming lethargic

In the past week, seven cats have been euthanized, upon consultation from a veterinarian, because they were very sick, said O’Reilly.

“Bottom line is we’re trying go give the cats a chance,” she said. “But we can’t have an animal suffering.”

It is unknown at this time if all seven cats were infected with the same illness. The feline carcasses have been sent for evaluation at the University of Prince Edward Island.

There were 74 cats are remaining of over 200 that were originally removed from the property.

Organizations: NL West BOI SPCA, University of Prince Edward Island.There

Geographic location: Curling

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Recent comments

  • Margaret Coady
    September 11, 2012 - 01:32

    my concern is that a new posting by the spca -nl west states that all the remaining east side cats will be euthanized due to the severity of the infection.Arelimary report was issued but no final report.testing should be done on the remaining animals to see if they have the bacteria

  • elizabeth sloka
    September 10, 2012 - 12:27

    Joe if common sense were in use then these cats would never of been abandoned to begin with...where is responsibility and accountability when it comes to animals.. they are not a disposable commodity to be turned out when they are no longer cute or require some attention. A pet is a lifetime committment and some ppl just dont get it... I would take an animal over some humans since animals love unconditionally and dont turn out their owners when the owner is no longer fun to be with... I hope these cats all recover and some responsible ppl adopt them and care for their needs...

  • elizabeth sloka
    September 10, 2012 - 12:26

    Joe if common sense were in use then these cats would never of been abandoned to begin with...where is responsibility and accountability when it comes to animals.. they are not a disposable commodity to be turned out when they are no longer cute or require some attention. A pet is a lifetime committment and some ppl just dont get it... I would take an animal over some humans since animals love unconditionally and dont turn out their owners when the owner is no longer fun to be with... I hope these cats all recover and some responsible ppl adopt them and care for their needs...

  • Andrea Benson
    September 10, 2012 - 12:21

    It's extremely unlikely that the illness will spread to humans. They are just being very cautious, which is only sensible. Illnesses spread easily in crowded shelter environments. It's nothing new and nothing for the general public to panic about.

  • Joe
    September 10, 2012 - 09:35

    Terrific! Just what we wanted to hear. What about the remaining cats that have been adopted by families? More importantly; what about all the humans who have come into contact with these animals? In this current generation, we see more concern for animals than we do for humans. Where is it all going to end? Maybe we will have a serious epidemic and then we will be in trouble! Seems to me like there is too much emphasis on university degrees rather than good old common sense.