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Quarantine lifted, Coastal Humane shelter to reopen Saturday in Brunswick

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Quarantine lifted, Coastal Humane shelter to reopen Saturday in Brunswick

BRUNSWICK — Coastal Humane Society will reopen at noon Saturday, Aug. 23, after a quarantine ordered by the Maine Animal Welfare Program was lifted two weeks early.

The shelter was forced to close Aug. 8 after ringworm, a fungal skin infection, was found on five dogs rescued from a kill shelter in Alabama.

As a result, the state ordered the shelter to close for 28 days.

The shutdown compromised the performance of Coastal Humane in a national, $100,000 adoption challenge sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and television personality Rachael Ray.

With the quarantine lifted, the shelter will be able to add all the animals adopted before the Aug. 31 deadline to its final tally in the challenge.

"We credit the early reopening of the shelter to our proactive and attentive staff and to best practice infectious disease protocols," Dr. Mandie Wehr, veterinarian and director of shelter operations, said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Staff maintained 16 different quarantine zones to prevent ringworm spores from spreading throughout Coastal Humane's Range Road shelter, Wehr said. Two rounds of testing in each zone all came back negative, prompting the state to deem the facility clear of ringworm, she said.

No animals beyond the original five dogs have displayed any symptoms of ringworm, Wehr said.

Liam Hughes, of the state's Animal Welfare Program, said that the shelter's protocols were "very impressive," and it was asked to share its procedures with other shelters in the state, according to Wehr.

Last week, the shelter announced that it was opening two emergency sites, at an abandoned kennel in North Yarmouth and the basement of its Pleasant Street administrative offices, to take in animals from local animal control officers. 

News of the shelter's reopening comes on the heels of the announcement that Coastal Humane again won the top spot in its division in the ASPCA challenge for the month of July, and will receive a $5,000 grant for its accomplishment.

Although the ringworm shutdown is likely to affect its adoption numbers for August, the shelter will try to make up for lost time with a "Kitten Impossible" event on Saturday, Aug. 23, and Sunday, Aug. 24, offering $99 kittens and fee-waived cats.

Coastal Humane on Saturday will also hold its annual "Paws for a Cause" run/walk in Freeport, its largest fundraiser of the year.

Labor Day weekend will feature a "Top Dogs and Comeback Cats" program, offering discounts on dog and cat adoptions.

"We plan to finish the summer in the spirit of the Challenge, just as we began it back in June," interim Director Mary Fifield said in Thursday's statement.