Contagious virus has Beatrice Humane Society hitting pause on cat adoptions

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Beatrice Humane Society says it’s temporarily stopping intakes and adoptions of all cats and kittens due to a contagious virus.

According to the shelter, some of the animals recently tested positive for panleukapenia. It mainly affects unvaccinated cats, especially when they’re too young to get their shots.

Executive Director of the Beatrice Humane Society Carlee Fiddes said cat owners don’t need to worry as long as household pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

“Unfortunately, here in the shelter, we have unvaccinated animals. We have exposure to other animals. So we tend to see more of this disease than an average owner would see,” Fiddes said.

Dogs in the shelter’s care are not affected by the virus.

The humane society isn’t taking in any new cats right now, but Fiddes had advice for anyone who finds a stray cat.

“For the next two weeks, give us a call and let us know that you found the cat. We’ll put it into our lost cat report and if there’s somebody looking for the cat, we can get them back home without coming into the shelter,” she said.

Until you can bring the cat in, she said it’s best to put up a temporary shelter with food and water on a patio or somewhere you feel comfortable.

“Right now, they’re safer out in our community than they are coming into our shelter,” Fiddes said.

The Beatrice Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, but unfortunately, some cats have died from the virus.

“I can tell you that I’m still happy with knowing that we gave every animal a chance,” Fiddes said. “We gave every animal the tools that they needed to survive, and if they couldn’t survive, then we made the most humane decision for them.”

She said panleukapenia isn’t uncommon at shelters, but the community can help prevent it by doing their part.

“With 90% of the animals walking through our front doors being unvaccinated, we’re going to have to deal with this again in the future,” Fiddes said. “I would really love to see our community step up for our indoor cats, our indoor-outdoor cats, and even our outdoor cats to really vaccinate and spay and neuter and start controlling this problem at the source.”

The temporary pause on cat intakes is expected to be lifted on Nov. 17.

The adoptions of exposed cats could be sooner, depending on when veterinarians provide clearance.

None of the cats available at PetSmart adoption centers from the Beatrice Humane Society have been exposed to the virus.

Officials say they made the call out of an abundance of caution, to ensure the safety of animals in its care as well as those in the community.

If you have questions about symptoms to look for in your own pets you can contact the Beatrice Humane Society at (402) 228-9100.

Updates on future adoptions will be posted here.

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