Staff Scrambles to Respond as Viral Outbreak Closes Griffin Pond Shelter

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SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Griffin Pond Animal Shelter in Lackawanna County is closed due to an outbreak of a virus affecting cats there.

Officials at the shelter near Clarks Summit say they have about 100 cats in their care right now. They're working on moving all of those cats out of the building and into temperature-controlled trailers. Then, they'll begin sanitizing the entire shelter.

Griffin Pond Animal Shelter near Clarks Summit could be off-limits to the public for much of the summer as the staff responds to a viral outbreak affecting cats there.

"16 To The Rescue" was inside the cat facility just last month. The shelter says the outbreak likely started from an unvaccinated kitten brought in sometime recently.

"Kitten season was a little bit crazy," said shelter manager Ashley Wolo. "We think that may have been where it started, but we're not too positive.'

Wolo says the virus, called panleukapenia, is similar to distemper in dogs but it only affects cats.

"The chances of the cat surviving after they have contracted the disease are very slim – very, very slim. But, I can say that we have about 100 cats that we are caring for and we are working around the clock to give them the care that they need," Wolo said.

What Griffin Pond will not say is exactly how many cats they've had to euthanize because of the virus but that number could grow before the problem gets better.

The shelter's healthiest cats were sent to a vacant property owned by Gibbons Ford in Scranton.

"We got a call from Griffin Pond asking for our help and we kind of just decided, yes, we're happy to help, we'd love to take care of the animals," said Casey Medeiros of Gibbons Ford.

Once all the cats are cleared from the building, Griffin Pond says a professional cleaning company will come in to disinfect the entire building.

"It is very difficult on both the staff, the animals, the public, it is very, very hard. Which is why we are asking for all the help that we can get. We are in dire need of donations," Wolo said.

Griffin Pond is asking anyone who wishes to donate money or cat supplies to drop everything off at Petsmart in Dickson City. They want to minimize the number of people who are at the facility. They will still be doing dog adoptions while all of this is going on, but they ask people to call and set up an appointment.

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