Pet group coming to help with dogs at Odessa Animal Control

ODESSA -- American Pets Alive is answering the call after more than 140 dogs were reportedly in danger of being put down in Odessa.

On Tuesday morning the chairman of the Odessa Animal Control Advisory Board stated on social media that more than 140 dogs would be put down after the shelter suffered a distemper exposure.

Susie Clark posted the following on Facebook:

"Due to a distemper exposure, the decision has been made for every dog at Odessa Animal Control to be put down. Over 140 pups. Many have been there for months and are fully vaccinated as well.
If your beloved pet is missing, please go check before the end of the day tomorrow, December 6, 2018. I am sickened and in disbelief that this could even happen."

After the story was shared on social media the group American Pets Alive reached out and said they would be coming to West Texas on Thursday morning to help clean the shelter and get the dogs out and back in safely.

Clark told CBS7 the following:

"This group will facilitate cleaning the shelter and getting them safely out and back in. Odessa Animal Control does not knowingly release an animal into the community with a contagious disease.
In the event an animal has distemper, only that animal would be put down. This is the goal."

The City of Odessa released the following statement on the situation:

"The Odessa Animal Control Shelter was notified of a possible exposure to distemper November 28, 2018. Canine distemper is a contagious viral disease for which there is no specific treatment. Once notified of the issue, proactive measures were taken to prevent the spread of this contagious disease among other animals at the shelter. Several Placement Partner group assisted in getting many animals out and the building where the possible exposure occurred was cleaned to prevent further spread of the illness. Despite those efforts a few dogs began showing severe symptoms and many other dogs are now showing common symptoms consistent with distemper. The remaining animals have likely been exposed to the illness. We are working with local veterinarians to confirm whether or not the illness is distemper and to determine the best course of action. We have requested assistance from our Placement partner groups again but understand their limited resources were strained by the animals taken last week. Owners, who were reclaiming pets after the shelter was notified, were advised of the possible exposure to their pet and advised to follow-up with their veterinarian. No specific date or time is set for animals to be euthanized. Unfortunately, however, euthanasia will be performed on dogs that are ill in accordance to policy. America Pets Alive has offered to assist the Odessa Police Department with this outbreak. America Pets Alive is a division of Austin Pets Alive and has success in helping other shelters such as Lubbock and Harris County contain and deal with distemper outbreaks."

Last week the OAC shared a release on the exposure and asked that missing down owners check for their dogs there.

Fifty-three dogs at the shelter were relocated to partner groups. Several dogs were euthanized as the shelter said they were showing signs of illness and were not eligible to be released.

The city of Odessa said during that time, they worked with their non-profit partners to relocate animals and clean the shelter.

After seeing the news online, the non-profit group American Pets Alive! decided to offer help to the Odessa Animal Shelter.

Kasey Chayeb with American Pets Alive! said the group has helped several communities with distemper outbreaks.

“We actually saw this issue surface on social media. And that’s how we’ve seen and responded to crisis in other communities as well,” she said.

Chayeb listed other communities, like Garland and Austin, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico. The non-profit reached out to the city of Odessa, to lend a helping hand. The city’s protocol at the shelter for animals with distemper is euthanasia.

“But there is a vaccination to prevent, as well as to treatment for those who have active distemper. So we advise treatment for dogs who are truly sick, and also categorizing those populations to exposed distemper dogs and dogs who are on distemper watch. We help shelters find placement for those dogs, we sanitize and organize their shelter. And then they resume normal function and intake of animals. There’s a new intake process that our experts help them set up that prevents any future outbreak of the disease,” she said.

Their team will arrive on Thursday and create an assessment plan with a goal of saving as many animals as possible.

“Our current report is that 140 animals is the population affected by the distemper outbreak. Our goal is to save all of them,” she said.

CBS7 will continue to update this story as more information becomes available throughout the day.