It’s Tuesday, May 2, and a two-month-old kitten, Mac, has become the 1,000th cat admission at Maddie’s Felines In Treatment (F.I.T.) Center at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS). He, along with his 10 littermates, look like normal playful kittens until you notice the hair loss and lesions around their paws and ears. To DCHS admitting staff, this is an early indication of dermatophyte (ringworm), a highly contagious fungus that can be transmitted across species, including dogs and humans.
In many shelters across the country, a diagnosis like this is very bad news for infected animals. Many end up being euthanized since shelters are not properly equipped to deal with such a contagious disease. At DCHS, a positive ringworm diagnosis means a 45 to 70 day stay in the F.I.T. Center. This cutting-edge ringworm treatment program began at DCHS in 2003 inside a pink 1970s-era trailer where Karen Moriello, DVM, DACVD; Sandra Newbury, DVM; and a dedicated group of volunteers worked tirelessly to give these cats a second chance.
In 2010, the program moved into Maddie’s F.I.T. Center, built on DCHS grounds. The F.I.T. Center provides a quarantined, low-stress environment where ringworm-positive cats receive oral antifungal medications and get twice-weekly lime sulfur dips until they show two negative fungal cultures in a row and are considered cured.
Beth Rodgers, DCHS F.I.T. coordinator, is very proud of the ringworm treatment program that has put DCHS at the forefront of shelter medicine and management. “What’s most impressive about the program is that 90 percent of the work is done by volunteers,” says Beth. “I’m always impressed by what they’ll do and the sacrifices they’ll make so these cats will have a chance they wouldn’t have at a lot of shelters.”
Beth ensures that stress levels are managed, and each cat in the F.I.T. Center receives one-on-one attention and cuddles during their long stay. This can be quite a challenge, especially with kittens like Mac and his littermates who take every opportunity to leap out of their cages to play. By the end of many long weeks of treatment, Mac will be a F.I.T. Center graduate, with a clean bill of health and a loving personality, ready to find his forever home.
DCHS is a private, nonprofit shelter with an adoption guarantee. They accept all animals in need of assistance regardless of age, health status, or temperament. To learn more about Maddie’s F.I.T. Center or to donate to help support the comfort and care of animals in need, visit giveshelter.org or call (608) 838-0413.
Marissa DeGroot is the Public Relations Coordinator at Dane County Humane Society.