WATERVILLE — Still reeling from an outbreak of ringworm in late April, the Humane Society Waterville Area is hoping to open its doors again toward the end of May, contingent on receiving one last negative test result on the fungal infection, according to board of trustees President Matthew Townsend.
The shelter is awaiting results of the third ringworm test and expects those results on May 28, Townsend said.
To allow a shelter to reopen after a ringworm outbreak, the state Department of Agriculture requires three negative ringwork tests.
“If this test comes back negative, we’ll have a final inspection on the 28th by the Animal Welfare Program,” Townsend said. “It may take a couple days to get everything lined up, but we’re planning on opening soon after that third test result comes back.”
The shelter has been closed since late April after a dog that was brought to the shelter had ringworm, a fungal infection that feeds on material on the dog’s outer layer of skin and appears in dime-sized circles on human and animal skin. It is not fatal, but it spreads easily and can be passed from animal to human.
At the beginning of May, shelter officials estimated that the outbreak and ensuing cleanup cost the humane society at least $10,000.
Before the outbreak, the shelter had more than 100 cats and about 18 dogs, most of which have been transferred to other shelters, most to either the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook or the Somerset Humane Society in Skowhegan. Townsend said the shelter now has 30 to 40 cats and about a dozen dogs, all of which have been quarantined during the cleaning process.
“We tried to get the majority of animals to other shelters to reduce the potential for problems and costs for testing,” Townsend said. Each animal at the facility needed to be tested for ringworm at a cost of $65 to $85 per animal.
Since the outbreak, a flood of donations has helped ease the financial concerns that arose after the infection, Townsend said, estimating that about $15,000 had been donated in the last month. In addition, he said, donors have replaced about 20 percent of the animal bedding and crates that had to be thrown away.
The tumult of the last month for the Humane Society has coincided with a period when the shelter is operating without an executive director, as former director Kathleen Ross has left the agency. Two employees of the shelter, kennel manager Pam Nichols and community outreach coordinator Margi Hayes took over director responsibilities in the short term.
Townsend said Karen Stimpson, former executive director of the Portland-based Coastal Humane Society, has taken on a short-term consultant role at the Waterville shelter, as a search gets underway for a full-time executive director.
“Long-term, we will look at hiring that position and will be advertising that position,” Townsend said. “We need to do something, and we’re looking for someone with director experience.”
Townsend said he didn’t know if Stimpson had any interest in becoming the executive director in Waterville. Attempts to contact Stimpson on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Now the president of the Maine Federation of Humane Societies, Stimpson was the executive director of the Coastal Humane Society until the end of February.