Animal shelters impacted by distemper outbreak

The Horry County Humane Society is working on a plan for reopening its animal shelter, after an outbreak of distemper. In the meantime, other animal shelters in the area are forced to deal with the fallout, though they don't have a distemper problem.

The North Myrtle Beach Humane Society was already overcrowded, before the Horry County shelter closed. Now, people are bringing more unwanted animals to North Myrtle Beach, because they can't take them to Conway.

"We just keep trying to make space, moving animals around, trying to accommodate people, so that they don't dump these animals out in the country," said North Myrtle Beach Shelter Director Michelle LoPinto.

LoPinto said her phone has been ringing off the hook, with callers confused about distemper and not sure which local shelter has closed.

Though the outbreak didn't happen there, LoPinto says it's hurting the North Myrtle Beach shelter, and she's hoping it doesn't effect their adoption rate.

"We didn't need this right now," LoPinto said. "I'm sure that the other shelters feel the same way."

At the Grand Strand Humane Society, veterinarians are re-vaccinating all the animals for distemper, just to be safe.

"It's caused concern in that we're just more on the lookout for it and that we're doing as much as we can to prevent the possibility of it coming here," said Dr. Michelle Crull.

Officials at both facilities said they're all here for the same reason: to give unwanted animals a good home. They said a distemper outbreak could have happened anywhere.

"That's why it's kind of a good wake-up call for all of us in this business, to make sure we are vaccinating and we are looking for signs of any kind of strange behavior," LoPinto said.

LoPinto said she feels bad for what happened at the Horry County shelter, for the animals and the staff. She said, this is rough on everyone.