Martin Co. animal shelter reopens to public after parvo outbreak

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Martin County Humane Society reopened to the public Monday after at least 20 dogs rescued from a suspected puppy mill tested positive for parvovirus.

A total of 72 dogs were taken from a residence in Loogootee after authorities found them living in filth, many in cages caked in feces.

The Martin County Humane Society led the rescue efforts despite only being able to house 14 dogs comfortably at any given time.

“I don’t think people realize just how small we are,” said volunteer Courtney Hughett, adding that the public stepped up to help out. “”Everybody has just been so wonderful. To think you can have 72 dogs and have them all placed in rescue in one day. I’m just amazed.”

The public was still arriving at the shelter with donations Saturday when the parvo outbreak was discovered. A total of four dogs died as a result of the virus. The shelter shut down while dealing with the crisis.

The final four infected dogs were sent to Heal Pet Care in Bloomfield yesterday after beginning treatment in Martin County.

“I think those that have made it this far will make it,” Hughett said of the treated dogs.

The public was allowed back in the shelter Monday, but were stopped in the lobby.

While no more cases of parvo are suspected, volunteers are taking extra precautions to prevent further infections.

“We still have to bleach over and over and over again,” Hughett said.

In addition to the parvo cases, some of the dogs rescued from the puppy mill suffered injuries.

Heal Pet Care took in two injury cases, one was a suspected broken leg and the other was a dog with an injured ear due to being attacked by another animal.

While Hughett could not speculate the total cost to treat the parvo cases, she said dogs can cost anywhere from $150 for those with absolutely nothing wrong to upwards of $1,000 for those who test positive for illness such as heartworms and Lyme Disease.

Hughett said they have not yet tested the newly rescued dogs for heartworms, however, she noted this area tends to have high rates of heartworm cases. She estimated one in every five dogs taken in by the shelter tests positive.

So far, a Facebook fundraiser has raised more than $24,000 for the rescued dogs, with another $1,650 received at the shelter.

Hughett said the funds and supplies donated will be divided among all of the shelters that took in the 72 dogs.

Loogootee resident Julia K. Arney, 73, was charged with animal cruelty and animal neglect in the case. 

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