52 dogs euthanized at Franklin Co. Dog Shelter amid respiratory disease outbreak


The Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center euthanized 52 dogs since Friday because of a respiratory disease outbreak.

The shelter has been closed since Friday because of the diseases.

In a statement the shelter said, "So far 52 dogs already showing severe clinical signs of respiratory disease combined with other physical, mental and emotional factors which would make an extended quarantine inhumane have been humanely euthanized"

The shelter director, Don Winstel, said he doubled the medical staff since Friday to try to prevent the spread of the diseases.

The remaining dogs are in quarantine at the shelter on Tamarack Boulevard and all dogs at the shelter are considered to have been exposed to the virus.

Grief counselors are at the facility to speak with staff members.

On Friday, shelter officials confirmed one case of distemper after an adopted dog was brought back to the shelter and showed symptoms. The dog was euthanized.

The shelter says a second dog was also euthanized on Friday. Winstel says that dog was not confirmed to have had distemper, but showed deathly symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of distemper initially look like kennel cough.

Symptoms like fever and discharge from the nose and eyes eventually begin to impact the animals respiratory and nervous systems.

Winstel said the shelter will open Monday at 11:00 a.m., but there will be no adoptions. The shelter will be open for for lost dog services only.

People gathered at the shelter Sunday to protest the shelter's decision to euthanize the animals.

In a statement released Sunday night, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners said:

The Board of Commissioners is aware of the respiratory infection outbreak at the Franklin County Dog Shelter, and has been closely monitoring the situation. County Administration and newly appointed Shelter Director Don Winstel acted quickly to assemble a team of the community's best minds in both public health and veterinary medicine including consultants from The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical College, Capital Area Humane Society and Columbus Public Health. These experts are advising the Board and County administration on addressing the infectious disease outbreak, and have kept the media informed as we can confirm, without question, the facts of the situation.

Shelter staff, medical staff and this team of experts continue to work to address the outbreak. The Commissioners rely on their expertise and that of the Director of Animal Care and Control to make decisions concerning animal welfare, and have asked administrators to provide updates to the public on this situation.

Additionally, the Board, County Administration, and Director Winstel are launching, in consultation with these experts, a comprehensive review of existing infectious disease protocols to ensure that Franklin County is still in line with the nation's best practices.


Franklin County Dog Shelter Policy for Infectious Diseases

A team of experts from the Franklin County Dog Shelter, Capital Area Humane Society, and the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine will examine every dog in the shelter.

The vets will designate every animal as either exposed or unexposed based on their time in the shelter and proximity to dogs potentially infected with distemper based on clinical signs.

For those considered exposed, the vets will further classify each dog as low risk, moderate risk, or high risk based on a combination of factors which includes but is not limited to: type and severity of clinical signs, vaccination history, age, and other medical or behavioral factors that would make an extended quarantine period inhumane for the dog

Quarantine for exposed dogs is typically 4 to 6 weeks and involves restrictions for contact with people and other dogs that make cage confinement a much bigger concern compared dogs who can benefit from the activities and enrichments provided during non-quarantine conditions.

Classification of clinical signs of respiratory disease:

-Mild = slight serous (clear)nasal discharge, no sneeze, no cough

-Moderate=serous nasal discharge, +/- sneeze, no cough

-Severe=mucopurulent or cloudy nasal discharge, or cough, or mucoid ocular discharge, +/- sneeze

Unexposed dogs – This group of dogs will be held in separate wards from those that are exposed and additional steps will be taken to prevent cross contamination. They can be made ready for adoption.


-Dogs that, due to lack of proximity, were not considered exposed to distemper

Exposed dogs high risk – This group of dogs should be euthanized.


-those with moderate or severe signs of respiratory disease

-those <6 months regardless of vaccination status

-those with 1 vaccine and mild signs

-those with two vaccines and mild to moderate signs

-those who would suffer from an extended quarantine period due to pre-existing medical or behavioral conditions.

Exposed dogs moderate risk – This group of dogs should be quarantined for 4 to 6 weeks provided they are otherwise deemed adoptable.


-those with 2 vaccines and mild to moderate signs of respiratory disease

-those with 1 vaccine that are > 1 year of age with mild signs of respiratory disease

Exposed dogs low risk – This group of dogs should receive further risk assessment to determine whether they should be quarantined or made ready for rescue/transfer out


-those >6 years who were s/n at the time of intake with mild signs of respiratory disease

-those >1 year who were surrendered with documentation of vaccination with mild signs of respiratory disease

-those with 2 vaccinations and mild signs of respiratory disease

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