TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Update: According to Terre Haute Humane Society representative Maggie Wheeler, the shelter will stay closed until Tuesday, May 2.

“We still have a group of sick puppies and the staff are stretched thin. I think that should give us enough time to be fully confident we have it out of the building,” Wheeler said.

Original: More than a dozen puppies lost their lives due to a parvovirus outbreak at the Terre Haute Humane Society.

“I think we’ve lost about 14 puppies. The rest of them, are doing okay. They’re getting their energy back, we have not had any new positive cases of puppies, so I think we’re kind of on the back end of it,” said Maggie Wheeler of the Terre Haute Humane Society said.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but puppies younger than four months old and unvaccinated dogs are the most at risk.

“It’s a pretty highly transmittable virus, it’s got about a fifty percent mortality rate,” Wheeler said.

The American Veterinary Medical Association said the virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact as well as contact with contaminated feces, environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate surfaces, food bowls, and even the hands and clothing of people handling an infected dog.

Resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, the virus can survive in the environment for long periods of time.

“Which is one of the reasons why we wanted to make sure we closed, we’re taking that time to get everything you know, double and triple cleaned, because, like I said, you can bring it in on your shoes,” Wheeler said.

Dawn dish soap and bleach donations go a long way.

“You clean with Dawn, that breaks the cell wall of the virus down, and then we bleach and that kills the virus,” Wheeler noted.

In addition to Dawn dish soap and bleach, the shelter could also benefit from donations of Pedialyte to help sick animals hydrate as well as baby food, including chicken and ham.

Wheeler said if your dog experiences any abnormal symptoms, is unwilling or unable to eat, has vomiting or diarrhea, to get your animal checked out right away.

Wheelers believes a low vaccination rate for Parvo within the county, as well as the overcrowding situation at the shelter, went hand in hand.

“Please, get your animals vaccinated,” Wheeler pleaded. “I cannot stress the importance of that enough. Parvo is completely preventable with current vaccines and just kind of careful handling with your own animal,” she added.

While closed to visitors, employees and volunteers are taking the time to care for the sick animals as well as clean and disinfect them.

“We’re striving to achieve the best possible outcome,” Wheeler said. “There’s an emotional toll on the staff. Every positive case, every loss of a puppy, they take it very hard,” she added.