Humane Society Warns Of Canine Distemper Outbreak - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/4/05-Longview

Humane Society Warns Of Canine Distemper Outbreak

An outbreak of a deadly animal disease is forcing one East Texas shelter to euthanize many of its dogs. The Humane Society of Gregg County made the realization after several dogs that were recently adopted were diagnosed with distemper. Distemper is a highly contagious, airborne disease that is almost always fatal for animals.

Now the Humane Society is getting out a warning to anyone who has adopted a dog from them over the last month.

Marilyn Price is an animal lover. Last week she came to the Humane Society of Gregg County to find the perfect puppy. "Last Thursday my daughter and I came down here to see if we could find a pet for my granddaughter," says Marilyn.

Marilyn found a puppy named Skeeter. But within a day Marilyn realized the puppy was sick. "He was coughing and sneezing and had a real poor appetite. Now he's started the vomiting and diarrhea," says Marilyn.

A veterinarian diagnosed Skeeter with distemper, just like many other dogs at the Humane Society. "It can last anywhere from 10 days to several weeks and most often a dog can have distemper and not even show signs until the later stages," says Humane Society director Roxanne Hutson.

The disease mostly affects young puppies and older dogs, and is not transferable to humans. The shelter believes an unvaccinated stray likely exposed the other dogs to the disease. Because it so highly contagious, the Humane Society says they have no choice but to euthanize most of the dogs.

"Any dogs that are remaining in the facility, that have not been adopted or returned to their owner this week unfortunately are going to have to be euthanized," says Roxanne. 25 to 30 dogs will most likely be put to sleep this weekend. Some pet owners are hoping to nurse their newly adopted dogs back to health, but veterinarians say that is not likely to happen.

Today Marilyn was forced to return Skeeter to the Humane Society. "It's very hard because he's just so sweet, but he doesn't stand a chance now," says Marilyn.

Skeeter's adoption would have been final today, instead this family had to say goodbye.

If you have adopted a dog from the Humane Society of Gregg County within the last month, veterinarians say keep your dog away from other pets. Also, watch for signs of fever, coughing, or vomiting. Veterinarians say there are antibiotics available that may help the animals recover.

Amy Tatum, reporting. atatum@kltv.com

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