BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — As Sullivan County’s Animal Shelter remains closed due to another outbreak of parvovirus, officials from the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine will be at the facility in Blountville today to train employees in canine parvovirus prevention and treatment.
For the second time in less than two months, the shelter closed last week due to parvovirus. County Mayor Richard Venable said Monday he hadn’t been able to confirm how many dogs have been diagnosed with the highly contagious virus, but he heard the number was as high as five. He said he didn’t know whether any died or were euthanized due to the illness.
There have been no reports from shelter officials, but according to the volunteer-run Facebook public group page, Animal Shelter of Sullivan County, at least seven dogs have died from parvo.
Animal Shelter of Sullivan County Board President Linda Brittenham said last week the closing was the result of at least two confirmed cases of parvovirus.
Venable said he isn’t sure when the shelter will reopen. The Bristol Herald Courier was unsuccessful in its attempts to contact Brittenham and board Vice President Gena Frye for additional information. Three other board members said they also hadn’t been able to get any information.
The Animal Shelter of Sullivan County nonprofit organization will at some point take over operations of the shelter from the county, which has been in charge since Jan. 1, 2018, but it’s not clear when. Venable said Monday the first step in the transition of operations was supposed to be with a permanent manager at the helm, but Terry Johnson, the man the board’s Executive Committee hired in late May, quit on his first day last week.
“I think he was supposed to come to work last Monday and put it off until Tuesday,” Venable said. “I know he visited the shelter, but between when he was supposed to come [start the job] and then notified the board he wouldn’t be taking the job … I’m not sure why he quit. Hopefully, the board will do an exit interview with him to see what his impressions were and see if we can’t fix it.”
During an interview with Johnson in June, he told the Herald Courier that he’s not an animal expert, but he’s willing to listen to and work with employees, volunteers and the community toward what’s best for the animals. Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment despite several attempts last week and Monday.
Venable said the board is working “expeditiously” on finding Johnson’s replacement. Last week, he briefly met with Frye, who said she was interviewing a candidate that day, he said.
“I would certainly be most happy if they had a manager selected by the end of this week,” Venable said. “I won’t say I expect that, but it would certainly make me happy if they did.”