KILN -- The Hancock Animal Shelter is hoping to get back to normal by Friday after what's been a difficult week.
An unknown illness forced the shelter to close for more than a week, but Director Toni Accardo said it will reopen Friday.
Accardo said the staff is still searching for answers. Originally, she said, it was believed to be "dog flu" or canine influenza that infected up to 39 of the dogs at the shelter, but after results came back inconclusive from the state, she said multiple illnesses may have hit simultaneously.
"This isn't something that has been going on, it's something that kind of snuck up on us and happened over the weekend all of a sudden," she said Tuesday evening, about a week after closing the shelter. "Nobody knew what was going on. Even the veterinarians we work closely with don't, either. There's so many signs and symptoms going on at one time that we think it's more than one illness that has occurred and infected the entire shelter."
More tests have been sent to Cornell University in hopes of determining exactly what struck the shelter. But in the meantime, Accardo said a crew was expected to come in Wednesday to sanitize and disinfect the duct work and air-conditioning unit.
"(The disease) definitely spread through the air," she said, "so we're disinfecting everything, inside and out."
The shelter came under fire on social media over the last week when it was learned dogs that were not showing improvement might have to be euthanized. Accardo said she wasn't sure how many dogs have been put down during the last week, but said some dogs have begun to turn the corner after receiving antibiotics, fluids, steroids and allergy medications.
Accardo said she understands some of the criticism, but she was acting in the best interest of both the shelter and the animals.
"People are going to question it, especially when they're animal lovers," she said. "(Euthanasia) is the last option. What the public doesn't understand is that being that this stuff is spread by air, you can't house 50 dogs in one area and put them on antibiotics and expect them to all get well," she said. "It's impossible. You just can't do it because they're constantly re-infecting each other. And then when they're running high temperatures at 105, they're not eating or drinking.
"It's not necessarily about money, like people were saying. It's more about the health benefit that it causes for the shelter animals and the public animals."