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County, Cities, & Volunteers Join Forces to Save Felines

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX (June 17, 2019) – Faced with an alarming number of cats battling a vicious feline Panleukopenia virus – a highly contagious, often deadly disease among unvaccinated felines – Hays County officials participated in the transport of 72 cats last week from the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter to the medical personnel and facilities of Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) in Austin.

“We can’t thank APA! enough for taking on this additional, costly responsibility,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said. “And it is heartwarming to see all of the various entities involved in animal care in Hays County work together to help save pets’ lives. This outbreak of feline Panleukopenia virus is truly devastating to us.”

The caravan of Animal Control vehicles to Austin held 35 cats and 37 kittens and was coordinated by the cities of San Marcos and Buda, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Precinct 3 Commissioner’s Office, Hays County Office of Emergency Services, the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter, and many communitywide volunteers.

“Thanks to the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter staff for their efforts to contain this virus to stop any further loss of life of shelter animals,” Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said. “The Sheriff’s Office, which includes Animal Control services for much of Hays County, is committed to assisting the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter with manpower and equipment from the Sheriff’s Office when needed.”

“This effort was a bit different from our usual emergency response to evacuate animals,” Carey Morgan, Emergency Planner for the County’s Office of Emergency Services, said. “Many of the shelter resources we have agreements with for emergency evacuations were unsuitable for sheltering so many ill cats, so everyone was thankful that APA! could assist. The coordination effort among so many agencies and volunteers will only help streamline future emergency sheltering operations.”

Shell noted that the cost to APA! could run as high as $40,000, and donations are accepted at https://www.austinpetsalive.org/donate/donate-now. The San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter is also in need of donations which can be made at https://sanmarcostx.gov/256/Donate-to-the-Shelter. Both organizations also appreciate volunteers, adopters, and pet fosters.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of having your cats, and all your pets, vaccinated to prevent spread of disease,” said Jeff Caldwell, San Marcos Director of Neighborhood Enhancement. “Since the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter serves as the stray intake facility for the entirety of Hays County, a virus such as this is especially difficult to overcome, and we greatly appreciate our regional partners and Austin Pets Alive!.”

The vaccine-preventable virus, also known as feline parvovirus, is shed by infected cats’ feces and can live up to a year in an environment. Therefore, all cats are considered at risk for infection. Pet owners are encouraged to ensure that their pets are completely vaccinated, spayed/neutered and microchipped, and enjoy a healthy, appropriate diet.

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