Second Chance: Not a Worm or Humane Society’s Response to Ringworm!

Second Chance: Not a Worm or Humane Society’s Response to Ringworm!

For 30 years, the Animal Resource Center and Shops of Second Chance Humane Society have been serving Ouray, San Miguel, and Montrose Counties. Our adoption hours are from Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. View shelter pets and services online Connecting Pets, People, and Community While Saving Lives.

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If you follow Second Chance’s social media and newsletters, you know we have been talking about ringworm since the end of March. Sadly, we’re still talking about it and dealing with the issue at the shelter.

A bit about what we’re up against. Ringworm is a common fungal infection and among the most frequently occurring skin disorders affecting cats and also common in dogs. Despite its name, ringworm has nothing at all to do with worms. And the only thing it has to do with rings is the circular area of itchy rash that typically—but not necessarily—will appear on the skin of an infected animal or person. It’s the exact same fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

Ringworm is highly contagious and spread by direct contact with an infected animal or person, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces. The fungal spores can remain dormant on combs, brushes, food bowls, furniture, bedding, carpet, or other environmental surfaces for up to 18 months. (Which explains why we are cleaning every surface and space every day.) Ringworm is not dangerous to pets, and it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of infected cats are not symptomatic.

While very common and manageable in a home setting, ringworm in a shelter is a crisis. And all shelters deal with it.

Many articles are written about how a shelter should combat ringworm. Despite these resources, reaction to ringworm in any given shelter varies greatly. Shelters have euthanized their entire population to stop a ringworm outbreak – which Second Chance would never consider. We closed our doors for nearly a month, which is not the sort of action most shelters would take. We chose to talk about the problem, share our progress in fighting it, and take ringworm very seriously.

We’re almost certain our battle with the affliction started when we received a couple of mother cats and their kittens who were living outdoors in a feral/homeless cat colony. They were first housed in the clinic, then the outbreak spread from there. We caught it quickly, so the challenge was limited to a small percentage of our animals. However, we are still seeing a new case here and there, so we continue to deal.

Our incredible staff has been working diligently on the front lines to conquer this situation. They’re working long hours and enduring much stress. They are disinfecting every surface everyday using three different anti-fungal cleaners. They’ve been diligent about wearing protective gear. Using a Woods Lamp that emits ultraviolet light that makes ringworm cells glow, so staff is checking every pet every day. Shelter spaces and the clinic have been deep cleaned multiple times, and we are now cleaning and disinfecting our heating/cooling system in case spores found their way into the ductwork. We’ve also updated our intake protocols to screen every incoming pet.

We have made great progress, but are not out of the woods yet.

Executive Director, Nicholas Gilman says:

“I’m so proud of our staff for their response to this challenge. Their dedication to the health and safety of our dogs and cats continues to impress me. We’re happy that we seem to be through the worst of this outbreak and can focus on finding homes for pets.”

We so appreciate our people and community for understanding and supporting us as we’ve shared (or overshared) what has been happening. Whether adopting a new family member, donating money or goods, or supporting us by spreading our updates, we treasure the trust our extended community has in us.

AND… To continue the Second Chance Highlights section, we want to share the following:

George and Latte could really use a break from shelter life. Short term, long term… anything will help. Would you foster one of them?

Both are skilled fence climbers, so they need to be closely monitored when outside.

To learn more about these two deserving dogs, please reach out to Cinda, our foster coordinator.

Email: or call (970)626-2273.

Not yet signed up to foster?

Visit our website and fill out this form.

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