Brookhaven pet shelter closed for ringworm now overcrowded

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The Brookhaven Animal Shelter has been closed for more than a month to combat an outbreak of ringworm that led to the euthanization of at least 25 cats, officials said.

Since the closure meant no adoptions occurred, officials are dealing with overcrowded conditions. As of Tuesday, 209 dogs and 69 cats were at the shelter, which should house only up to 80 dogs and 30 cats, town officials said.

Peter O'Leary, Brookhaven Town commissioner of public safety, said officials plan to carefully monitor conditions to make sure the ringworm has been contained before the shelter reopens. The tentative plan is to reopen the shelter in Brookhaven hamlet on Monday.

He said 25 to 30 cats were diagnosed with ringworm and put down between June and July after treatment attempts failed. The shelter was closed to the public and volunteers on Aug. 28, when officials discovered three dogs showed signs of the fungal skin infection.

"It's very contagious not only to animals, but to humans as well," said O'Leary, who closed the shelter. "We've taken every preventive measure we could take to contain the spread."

Joe Morrissey, spokesman for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, said in an email statement that it "is not unusual for a shelter with stray cats and dogs to have a situation with ringworm. It can gain a foothold quickly, but that is not necessarily an indication of poor care."

Morrissey, whose agency inspects municipal shelters for veterinarian attention and sanitation, said the shelter's response "is what matters. They should consult with a veterinarian regarding the proper course of treatment unique to that situation."

O'Leary said he sought advice from veterinarians before closing the shelter.

During the closure the shelter has launched a search for its fourth director in just over a year. Robin Bahnsen quit the $75,000 position after only 12 days last month, officials said.

Former supervisor Dori Scofield resigned as director when the position paid $91,600 last year, citing "budget restraints." She was followed by Maureen Schneider.

Town officials are expected to fill the position this month.The shelter had roughly 40 part time and full-time employees last year. Current figures weren't immediately available.

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