Animals Euthanized

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Hundreds of dogs may be euthanized at an overcrowded southern Nevada animal shelter where a team of visitingveterinarians discovered a severe outbreak of contagious diseases,officials said.

The Lied Animal Shelter was closed to the public Friday while a
team from The Humane Society of the United States began examining
the 1,800 dogs and cats housed at the facility to determine how
many carried deadly viruses that spread quickly in shelter

Exact numbers were not available, but officials told the Las
Vegas Review-Journal they may have to euthanize hundreds of dogs
infected with parvovirus or distemper and more than a dozen cats
with panleukopenia, often likened to a feline version of distemper.

Humans are not susceptible to the diseases, which attack
animals' respiratory systems and intestinal tracts.

The Human Society team was invited to inspect the facility by
shelter officials and noticed dogs and cats suffering from serious
respiratory and intestinal diseases shortly after it arrived in Las
Vegas on Monday.

"It is common for there to be problems in animal shelters. But
we realized the disease situation was grave," said Kim Intino,
director of animal sheltering issues for the Humane Society. "We
have a situation of animals that have disease and are dying from
that disease in large numbers."

Lied executive director Diane Orgill said the shelter's
full-time veterinarian spends most work hours performing spay and
neuter operations rather than evaluating the animals.
"We didn't realize this was happening," she said, adding that
overcrowding likely contributed to the spread of the disease. "The
number of animals we have increases the chances of this

More than 7,000 dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and
other animals are adopted annually at Lied, which is run by a
private nonprofit that contracts with Clark County and the cities
of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas to house abandoned, neglected and
stray animals.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-02-10-07 1440EST