Covering Saint Johns County now--- The future and health of this shelter is in the hands of the people who will ADOPT these dogs. It's a major step before staff can tackle an illness, making its way through the Saint Johns County Pet Center. 3 Staff at the shelter says they've been plagued with a highly contagious bacteria, that can make dogs sick. It's called Microplasma. Not only is the Shelter not able to admit NEW dogs -- they need to find permanent homes for the ones they have, before they can start to get rid of the bacteria for GOOD. Channel 4's Ashley Harding visited the shelter, and joins us now live from Saint Johns County. Ashley, we know the dogs we just showed, have been treated as a precaution... but how is the shelter urging the community to step in, and adopt them? 3 3 21-3057-1'071'10-1'18"It's very important that we empty our shelter, because we cannot decontaminate while there are animals in our system." TRACK //dog NATS// Finding homes for these 12 dogs is a top priority for St.Johns county Animal Control. The sooner they're out, the sooner they can tackle the problem which has not only has infected their pet center, it's also made some of the dogs sick. "When we realized that we weren't dealing with kennel cough, lab tests had to be ran. It was confirmed through a lab, that we were dealing with a bacteria that is highly contagious and infectious." TRACK It's called Microplasma. It's a bacterial infection which, once it finds it's way into a dog's lungs, it can have a miserable effect. "They're coughing and they're sneezing. They have nasal discharge." TRACK Dr. Herb Loeman says the bacteria, athough treatable, is so contagious that every dog must be out before they can even begin the decontamination process. And admitting new dogs into the center is a no- go."There's always a turnover. Dogs coming in, dogs going out. Dogs going in, dogs coming out. So the disease is just being spread from one dog to another. From one kennel to another kennel. It never really gets broke." "The decontamination process may be a simple one, but it's time- consuming.Absolutely everything must be bleached from top to bottom. That includes everything from the cages to the dogs dishes...and even the drains." TRACK Those with animal control say their hope is to be back open by next week. But that can only happen if the public steps up. "All fees have been waived for adoptions and rescues. So this is a free home, it's a free chance to save a life." 3 Ashley... if people adopt these dogs, can this bacteria affect other animals they might have, like pet cats? And what about humans??