Longview animal shelter will euthanize 154 dogs after outbreak
POSTED: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 10:43am
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 2:21pm
LONGVIEW — 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