a brown and white long coated dog resting on a black surface
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5:19 p.m.: UPDATES with comment from Humane Society

Clayton County Animal Control officers have shut down both the county intake facility at 1396 Government Circle (behind CCPD Headquarters) and the Adoption Center at 3199 Anvilblock Road in Ellenwood due to a parvovirus outbreak.

Staff are decontaminating both facilities, which will be shut down for ten days under Georgia Department of Agriculture guidelines, CCPD says.

According to a CCPD press release, Animal Control officers discovered the outbreak today (Tuesday, Sept. 27) and took action: “If the facilities are able to be opened earlier, we will notify the public immediately.”

What is parvo?

“Parvo” is short for “parvovirus.” The disease has no cure and is especially dangerous to puppies. Humans cannot catch canine parvovirus but they can spread it to other dogs on their hands, clothes, and shoes.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, symptoms include:

  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal pain and bloating
  • fever or low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • vomiting
  • severe, often bloody, diarrhea
  • “Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.”

If your dog shows signs of parvo, do not wait. Seek veterinary help immediately. The virus can kill within 48 to 72 hours. The good news is, with prompt treatment (rest and lots of fluids), AVMA says survival rates approach 90%.

Dogs get parvo several ways, according to Pet Basics:

  • eating, sniffing or licking an infected dog’s feces
  • drinking from contaminated water bowls
  • contact with contaminated leashes or collars
  • contact with people who have handled an infected dog

The virus is very difficult to kill on surfaces, which is why Animal Control will be closed for a while.

The Clayton Crescent contacted the City of Morrow and left a message with Clayton County Parks and Recreation to find out whether the dog parks also might need to close temporarily as a precaution. Morrow said it would investigate and get back to us.

We also spoke with someone at the Clayton County Humane Society (which is a charity not associated with Clayton County Animal Control). Ashley Quick, an administrator at the Humane Society, said there has been no sign of parvo there, “but we took in a puppy today so we’ll look for it.”

Quick said if people have animals that show signs of parvo infection, “I would definitely have them tested for it. Somebody did call me on the phone today, it was just a person at home that called me about their dog personally, that sounded like signs of that, but it wasn’t a puppy.”

She added, “Go ahead and make an urgent care veterinary appointment. Make sure to keep your dog hydrated. There are certain things you can do at home for hydration. And then containing the mess that they are making because it goes into the ground. That stuff lives for years in the dirt. It requires immediate attention because that can be fatal and it can be bad if not treated in time, either.”

We’ll update with any status change to the local dog parks or the Humane Society.

What should I do for my dog(s)?

First, make sure your dogs are up on their vaccinations, especially parvo. If you breed dogs, check the American Kennel Club vaccine schedule for when and how often you need to vaccinate puppies for parvo and other deadly diseases.

Some low-cost vaccination sources include:

Do not allow your dog to get close to other dogs, especially in public places. While dogs get information about each other from sniffing butts and feces, there’s no way of knowing whether the other dog is infected with parvo.

It’s important to pick up your dog’s feces. If you don’t have “poo bags” handy, you can fold up a plastic shopping bag or two and stick them in your pocket when you take your dog for a walk. The Sierra Club warns that burying dog feces, especially near water, can spread other diseases that also affect humans.

Do not allow your dog to drink from communal water bowls in places like dog parks and outdoor cafés.

Do not breed dogs that you cannot afford to vaccinate or care for, even if you plan to sell them. If you don’t vaccinate the puppies on schedule, they can catch parvo and spread it to your other dogs, as well as other dogs in the area. Spay and neuter your dogs. Animal Control is full of puppies and dogs that people did not “fix.” Some of those dogs are eventually euthanized.

Learn more about parvo

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Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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