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Animal shelter temporarily closed due to virus

Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge in Luzerne County is temporarily closed after a virus outbreak.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge near Dallas is home to dozens of dogs, cats, and rabbits available for adoption and dozens of horses, goats, and pigs that live there permanently. 

It is also where we highlight many of our 16 To The Rescue pets looking for their forever home. But the shelter in Luzerne County is temporarily closed due to a virus outbreak infecting the dogs.

"A few of our dogs started to get diarrhea, but that's pretty normal for dogs that are in a new stressful environment. When our longer-term dogs started to get diarrhea and started not wanting to eat, we realized they weren't themselves, that's when we knew something was wrong," explained Emma Ripka, Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge.

Rescue workers don't know exactly what the virus is, but they say shelters across the country are experiencing the same thing. 

Other shelters are also reporting upper respiratory issues, but rescue workers are not seeing that at Blue Chip, they're hoping it's just a stomach bug. 

They say it is affecting about 25 percent of their 40 dogs right now, and they sent out for tests Thursday.

"So that's why we're trying our best by closing down for a little bit to stop the spread so that it's only in certain areas and it doesn't go any further," said Ripka.

Rescue workers say humans cannot contract the virus, but if you are exposed to one of the shelter's infected dogs, you could bring the virus home and infect your animals. 

Because of that, no one is allowed on the farm right now, and therefore the shelter near Dallas will not be able to take in any strays or surrenders until further notice. 

"It's not just in shelters. Neighborhoods can pass it around from dog to dog. Really be attentive to your pet, if they're acting different than normal, if they have any GI issues or upper respiratory issues, definitely get them to the vet as soon as possible just to check out their symptoms," added Ripka.

Blue Chip is unable to accept any in-person donations right now as well. But if you'd like to help, you can donate toward the shelter's medical bills by PayPal, Venmo, or by mail. That information can be found by clicking here.

Rescue workers say they will re-open when there is a full week without dogs showing any new symptoms.

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