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Pinellas County Animal Services closes temporarily after canine virus outbreak

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - Pinellas County Animal Services is shut town for at least a month, suspending all adoptions of dogs.

One dog tested positive for a respiratory virus on Monday, and it's spreading quickly through out the shelter.

A sign now stands in front of the Pinellas County Animal Services building, telling everyone that it is temporarily closed because of Pneumovirus. It also says no dogs have died yet from virus, but employees want to be very careful and make sure it doesn't spread to other dogs in the community.

"You always try to be prepared for those things but it was like 'Oh crap, it's the holidays. We want to get everybody home but now we have to change course,'" said Doug Brightwell with Pinellas County Animal Services.

This time of year is usually very busy for Pinellas County Animal Services, but not this year.

"It's sad that they cant get their forever homes for the holidays when usually our adoptions will pick up," said Tiffany Oliver, a volunteer.

"We have an outbreak of Pneumovirus," said Brightwell.

Doug Brightwell with Pinellas County Animal Services says it's a respiratory infection that is very contagious.

"It starts with a runny nose cough, wheezing that kind of stuff. If it's left untreated or it's a severe case, it can turn into pneumonia and could be fatal but we aren't seeing that severity at this point," said Brightwell.

Tiffany Oliver volunteers with the organization and says staff is very busy keeping track of which animals are sick.

"We will check for discharge of the nose, coughing, sneezing if they are lethargic. A little overwhelming just making sure they get enough enrichment at least we are able to still get them out," said Oliver.

Brightwell says once the dogs are all better, they will deep clean the facility and reopen for adoptions, and Oliver hopes the community is ready to bring home a forever friend when the time comes.

"They're amazing. They are overlooked because people think shelter dogs aren't as good as other dogs but they are just amazing," said Oliver.

Employees here at Pinellas County Animal Services say they hope to reopen for adoptions in January.

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