Franklin County Dog Shelter to reopen after negative distemper tests

Franklin County Animal Shelter. (WCMH Photo)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Franklin County Dog Shelter is expected to reopen Thursday after 137 distemper tests came back negative from the University of Wisconsin.

“We can say with a great degree of confidence that there is no distemper at this shelter and that’s really important,” said deputy county administrator Erik Janas.

The shelter announced they will resume normal operations beginning Thursday, including adoptions. The adoption fees will be waived and animals can be adopted for the $18 cost of a dog license. About 35 dogs will be available for adoption at first.

“Those numbers will be increasing over the coming days as the dogs that were in isolation now can be considered as candidates for our adoption program,” said Janas.

PDF: Shelter press release 9/21/16

A total of 99 dogs were euthanized at the shelter since August 31 in connection with the respiratory disease outbreak.

When asked why each dog wasn’t tested before being euthanized at the beginning of the outbreak, Janas said it wasn’t until the opportunity with the University presented itself that they were able to test all the dogs at once quickly, with accurate information.

“The dogs euthanized before the opportunity presented itself with the University of Wisconsin were considered decisions based on whether or not those dogs had medical and/or behavioral issues and that includes an assessment of whether or not they would be able to survive a potential quarantine,” he said.

The shelter announced the partnership with the university last week and then stopped all euthanizations until results came back from the lab. Janas said the vast majority of dogs were tested, except for about 30 dogs.

“We could test those animals, there would be 30 more dogs to test, but for many of them it would be maybe a less humane thing to do and would not give us any more informaiton than the level of confidence that we have right now,” he said.

Janas said they will conduct a review of the entire situation once they get back to normal at the shelter.

“Part of that review will be to look at the timeline and figure out if there are things we could have done better, if there are practices that we could put in place to mitigate any chances of disease,” he said.

According to the shelter, the situation started when a dog named Maya tested positive for the canine virus. Medical staff at the shelter immediately began medical assessments on all dogs in the building to look for any signs of dogs showing similar symptoms.

The shelter said there have been two positive distemper tests, plus one dog who was highly suspected to have had the disease.

The shelter released an updated timeline on Friday, offering new details into when the three infected dogs arrived at the shelter and when they were diagnosed.

There will be a low-cost vaccine clinic in the shelter’s parking lot on Saturday from noon until 3:30 p.m. The shelter said they’re hosting the event to proactively protect all dogs in the community. It’s $5 to get your dog vaccinated against parvo and distemper. No appointments are necessary. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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