The Coastal Humane Society will be allowed to reopen two weeks earlier than expected after the state’s Animal Welfare Program determined that a quarantine has been effective in preventing the spread of ringworm at the midcoast region’s largest animal shelter.
The finding means that more than 200 stray animals, including dozens of dogs and cats, will be available for adoption when the Range Road facility in Brunswick reopens at noon on Saturday.
Jane Siviski, a spokeswoman for the organization, announced Thursday in a statement that the Range Road shelter has been cleared by the state’s Animal Welfare Program to reopen.
The quarantine went into effect in early August and was set to last one month after the shelter discovered five puppies that had been transferred to Brunswick from a shelter in Alabama were infected with ringworm. The puppies would have been euthanized if Coastal Humane had not agreed to accept the animals.
Ringworm is contagious and can be spread to humans by touching an infected animal or by touching infected objects. Health experts say the disease is treatable.
Dr. Mandie Wehr, the shelter’s veterinarian and director of shelter operations, isolated the puppies in an outbuilding and treated the animals for ringworm.
Despite being separated from the infected puppies, the remaining 220 or so animals in the main shelter also were placed under quarantine and could not be adopted.
“Shelter staff diligently maintained 16 different quarantine zones so that no ringworm spores could spread throughout the Range Road facility. After two rounds of testing in each of these zones, all of which came back negative, each environment has been deemed clear of ringworm by the state.
No other animals in the shelter but the original five have displayed any symptoms of the fungal infection,” Wehr said in a statement.
Liam Hughes, Director of the state’s Animal Welfare Program, notified the shelter on Wednesday that the quarantine was lifted provided that the infected puppies remain in isolation until it can be proven that the animals are no longer contagious.
“The veterinarian and the shelter workers have gone to great lengths to prevent the spread of this disease. They’ve done a really good job at addressing the outbreak,” said John Bott, spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
The five puppies will continue their treatment in isolation and be made available for adoption once they have received a clean bill of health.