SBK animal shelters reopen after deadly virus outbreak

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Two local animal shelters reopened Friday after a deadly virus temporarily shut them down.

Officials put SBK’s Kingsport and Blountville locations under quarantine after veterinarians discovered distemper virus.

Shelter leaders described the past few weeks as painful and depressing. Nine dogs died between the two locations in Kingsport and Blountville.

But Friday’s atmosphere was different, as the animal shelters opened to the public for the first time since mid-January.

Gloria Delp and her granddaughters spent Friday afternoon looking for a new addition to the family.

“Just a good house puppy that we can keep inside,” said Gloria.

Her 11-year-old granddaughter, Erian, said she’s not picky.

“Any type, just as long as it’s loving and easy to take care of,” said Erian Delp.

They have been hoping to meet their potential pup at the Kingsport animal shelter, but couldn’t the past four weeks because it’s been closed for the deadly canine virus distemper.

“Every day that this has been going on is like you dread getting up, you dread what the outcomes going to be that day, so today is a more heartwarming day,” said Donna Davidson, Operations Manager for SBK shelters.

That’s because the shelters in Kingsport and Blountville opened their doors distemper-free.

“Delighted, absolutely delighted,” said SBK President Tom Parham.

Parham said the outbreak solidified the importance of a plan to build a brand new, consolidated shelter in Kingsport.

“We don’t have the facilities to let us isolate sick animals like we should,” said Parham.

“It will have cat quarantine areas and dog quarantine areas, so whether it’s aggressive or sick we will have those areas to where we can put them separate from the others,” said Davidson.

Even though the past few weeks have been stressful and at times heartbreaking for Davidson, she’s hopeful the nine animals that died didn’t die in vain.

“The biggest thing I could say is for pet owners or for people to please vaccinate your animals,” Davidson said.

Kingsport and Sullivan County leaders aren’t wasting any time. We checked and found out the issue of building a new shelter is on the agenda at both of their next meetings.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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