- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2006

12:18 p.m.

PetSmart Inc., a pet supply and services retail chain, has suspended animal adoptions at 22 stores in Maryland and Virginia after a kitten tested positive for rabies.

The kitten was part of a litter of six from the company’s store at 7475 Greenbelt Road in Greenbelt.

All six animals have been euthanized, said Cindy Sharpley, director of Last Chance Animal Rescue, the organization that supplied the kittens.

Miss Sharpley said the store learned Thursday that the kitten was infected after the owner asked to return the animal because it was lurching and unsteady.

John Marsiglia, manager of the Greenbelt PetSmart, said the kittens were in the store May 14 through 19.

“It is a tragic incident, and there was nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this from happening,” Miss Sharpley said.

The kittens had been examined by a veterinarian and neutered before being brought to the store, she said. Even though pets are vaccinated before they are adopted, there is an incubation period for rabies.

“We have adopted 23,000 animals in the last five years, and this has never happened before,” she said.

Paul Amirault, district manager for PetSmart, said more than 3 million animals have been adopted in the Phoenix-based company’s 17-year history, with only one other rabies exposure two years ago, involving a dog.

Prince George’s health officials are asking that anyone who visited the Greenbelt store and came into contact with the kittens in the adoption center call the health department.

The department’s hot line is 301/583-3750 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, and 240/508-5774 or 240/286-7369 after 5 p.m. and on weekends. All callers will receive a rabies exposure assessment by telephone.

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