Longview animal shelter will euthanize 154 dogs after outbreak

Longview animal shelter will euthanize 154 dogs after outbreak

POSTED: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 10:43am

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 2:21pm

A viral outbreak at Gregg County’s only animal shelter means a death sentence for at least 154 dogs.

Humane Society of Northeast Texas Executive Director Christine Kerr through teary eyes confirmed Saturday that a dog adopted from the shelter died from what a local veterinarian determined was distemper. Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal viral infection that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

The shelter, which welcomes stray and unwanted animals from at least three counties, is closed until, at the earliest, Dec. 27. Shelter and Longview environmental health officials have set up a temporary intake facility at the Maude Cobb Activity Complex rodeo grounds on Grand Blvd.

Meanwhile, through Monday night, Kerr and her staff are euthanizing the 154 dogs who were at the shelter Friday when the outbreak was discovered.

“There has been a lot of fingerpointing, a lot of negative publicity out there,” Kerr said. “I would ask people not to blame the staff.”

It is the first distemper outbreak at the shelter in about five years, she said.

Because canine distemper does not affect felines, all 136 cats at the shelter Friday have been spared.

Humane Society of Northeast Texas leaders are asking residents to delay any animal surrenders until the shelter reopens. Once the euthanisia process ends, staffers will power wash “every inch of the inside” of the shelter through Thursday, Kerr said. She hopes that animals housed temporarily at the rodeo arena can return to the shelter on Enterprise Street by Friday.

The temporary shelter at Maude Cobb was established after learning that nine dogs — including the dog who tested positive for distemper — recently died from what were undetermined causes. Eight of the dogs died after they had been adopted or rescued.

Humane Society of Northeast Texas is offering a full refund for residents who adopted one of the affected animals, while staff members are encouraging other pet owners to closely monitor their pet’s health. Adopters obtain an insurance policy that covers as much as $750 in veterinary expenses.

“If I have a message for the public, it is to please vaccinate your animals. Please spay and neuter your animals, because it is so very important to take care of your animals properly,” Kerr said.

“We have a lot of citizens who believe that the animals contracted this in the shelter,” she continued. “The incubation time is between four and 20 days. We very seldom have any animal staying with us long enough for 20 days. In all reality, the animal that came in with distemper was one of the animals that someone surrendered or animal control brought in.”

Kerr also asked that the community support the shelter’s staff.

“Everybody who works there loves animals,” she said. “If you look at the reality of an open-admission shelter, the fact that we get the broken, the sick and the unwanted, and we cannot help all of them, and sometimes, they are so sick, they come in and spread a disease that can not be stopped, and that’s the sad part.”

Source: Longview News Journal


Jessica Wilson/ KETKnbc.com

Comments News Comments

This story still greatly upsets me. Had they done a call for donations I'm sure they would've gotten the money to test each & every dog so that many lives could've been spared. To just euthanize them all & not tell anyone until after it's too late isn't right. So sad...

Canine Distemper can be mild to sever like any disease. Outbreaks can occur if animals are able to come in contact with one another. I have not been to this shelter but the picture in the paper shows regular cages with no cement walls between each animal. Prevention is number one but when you have a high amount of surrenders and strays brought in it is impossible to recognize every possible ailment. Younger and senior dogs would have a higher fatality rate because of a weakened immune system. Ea

I wish people would keep their dogs and keep them under control, then we would not need shelters, period. Euth'ing 154 dog because of one distemper case is very extreme and unreasonable. I could maybe understand euth'ing the kennel mates, and maybe even the immediately surrounding kennels if they are not separated from each other - but the entire population!? That is insane in my view.

Its Horrible...Don't you people have any quarantine facility..to quarantine any new coming dog..or their lives have no values..It is a complete negligence on behalf of the whole staff...Shame on you.

I volunteer walking dogs during my lunchtime and weekends. I am very saddened to hear about this because there are so many good dogs there that would have made a great companion for someone. I have two Labs and luckily they have been vaccinated. Last Friday while volunteering, there was a puppy left outside in a cage that had parvo. So, they at least took the precaution for any spread of the virus. Don't know if that puppy was the source however.

How horrifying that this pound director would conduct a mass killing without ever reaching out to rescues and the public to hold the dogs in quarantine while the facility is cleaned. Had she chosen to ask her community for assistance, there would have been hope for them. But because "shelter" directors are allowed to kill with impunity, she can get away with this. Shame on her for blaming the public. It is not the public that is doing this without ever asking for help. It's her.

Those poor dogs! While I don't blame the staff, it's so heartbreaking that the shelter's Powers That Be decided to kill all the dogs instead of euthanizing on a case-by-case basis, like the shelter in Milwaukee did after a distemper outbreak: http://www.findavet.us/2011/10/distemper-outbreak-claims-25-dogs-milwauk....

I don't understand why dogs exhibiting no symptoms cannot be isolated and treated with antibiotics. Killing 156 dogs, most of whom are undoubtedly healthy, seems a bit extreme.

There are no antibiotics for distemper. It is a viral disease - antibiotics don't work on viruses.

People who have never owned a dog, have never seen true love.

Hey, Charles, you got that right. Dogs have such unconditional love. I have 5 of my own and would love to have 5 more, however, since I feed them All Natural Dog Food that can't be bought a Pet Store or from Vets...well, you work out the math! Wish people would get their dogs all their Puppy Shots, and also Rabies even though I think like other States do...Rabie shot, once every 3 years.

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