Young-Williams Animal Center Distemper Update

June 10, 2024

Statement from Janet Testerman, CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center

Young-Williams Animal Center issued a public health notice regarding confirmed cases of canine distemper within our shelter. In response to the situation, we took immediate and decisive actions to ensure the health and safety of all animals in our care and the community, including suspending adoptions.

Dog adoptions will now be available at our 3201 Division St. location starting at 2 p.m. today, June 10. Dog adoptions continue to be available at our 6400 Kingston Pike Village location.

Adoption fees for dogs and puppies are currently being waived. Young-Williams Animal Center and Village are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily and closed 1-2 p.m. for animal quiet time.

With a full shelter, it is critical to keep placing currently healthy animals – including those who have not been exposed or have been vaccinated against distemper – into homes in order to continue to control the animal populations, decrease the spread of disease and make space for those in need.

Other actions include the following request to the public regarding strays:

    • Young-Williams Animal Services is asking all residents of Knoxville and Knox County to refrain from bringing stray dogs to the shelter. If you encounter a stray dog, please do not attempt to capture or transport the animal.
    • Instead, note the nearest street sign or identifying business and contact Young-Williams Animal Services at 865-407-2229 with the location and a general description of the animal, including color, size and whether it is wearing a collar. Officers in the field will attempt to return the dogs to their home, so they are less likely to enter our shelter.

Important measures and current operations:

Emergency-only intake: Intake of animals will be limited only to cases affecting public health and safety through Young-Williams Animal Services.

Cat adoptions continue: Cat adoptions will proceed as usual at our Division Street location. Our facilities for cats are separate from those for dogs, and at this time there is no indication of any health concern affecting our feline friends.

Owner surrender of pets is suspended at this time: Those seeking support should contact the Pet Resource Center at 865-363-6702 or [email protected].

Reclaim of pets: The shelter remains open for animal reclaim, and those looking for lost pets should visit our lost and found page at young-williams.org/ and continue to visit the 3201 Division St. location.

Public spay/neuter: Spay/Neuter Solutions appointments, located in a separate part of the Village building, continue as usual.

Additional guidance for handling stray animals:

Microchip scanning: Please take stray animals to a local veterinarian to help reunite them with their owners.

Temporary housing: If possible, please consider temporarily housing the stray to reduce the risk of disease transmission and provide a safe refuge while efforts are made to locate its owner.

Contacting Young-Williams Animal Services: If no other options are available and you cannot safely care for the animal, please get in touch with Young-Williams Animal Services at 865-407-2229 for assistance. While we are taking animals on an emergency basis, please remember that bringing a stray into our facility poses a health risk to the animal.

Why this measure is necessary:

Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease with serious health implications for dogs. The virus attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of dogs. Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure to the virus from an infected dog or wild animal. By limiting the intake of strays and temporarily halting dog adoption, we aim to contain the disease and protect the animals in our community and those in our care.

As always, our strategy is to maximize lifesaving measures and provide resources to divert animals out of the shelter, making intake the last resort. We ask for the community’s support during this time and remind pet owners about the importance of having your pets vaccinated against distemper, parvovirus and other canine diseases. Getting a microchip for your pet and updating microchip information also ensures getting an animal home as opposed to it coming into the shelter.

Please continue to check Facebook for updates on facility schedules and services and other timely information. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we prioritize the health of our animals and take precautions to protect them.

Our Commitment:

Young-Williams Animal Center is committed to resolving this situation quickly and safely. Our team is working tirelessly to provide the necessary care to exposed animals and to implement rigorous sanitation measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.