ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - Three weeks ago, a dog was dropped off at the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter, a public shelter that doesn’t turn away animals.
Since Monday, they’ve had to euthanize more than 30 dogs that contracted canine distemper, a disease brought in by that one animal.
“The disease kinda camouflages itself and we didn’t recognize it. Even had we recognized it, we couldn’t treat it,” Athens Limestone Animal Shelter veterinarian Robert Pitman said.
Canine distemper is a viral disease that typically comes from wild animals, said Pitman.
This is the worst outbreak the shelter has ever had.
“They can be deathly sick and now show any signs. This fella was sick, and we never picked up on it,” Pitman continued.
Pitman also said they knew right away which animal originally came in with the distemper.
Staff at the shelter have been working around the clock, since Monday, to try and get this mess cleaned up.
“It’s been very hard to lose the ones you’re attached to,” Athens-Limestone shelter director Priscilla Blenkinsopp said.
With more than 60 dogs, the shelter said nearly every single dog has contracted the disease.
“We’re now focusing on the ones we can save. You know, that’s our goal,” Blenkinsopp said.
Dr. Pitman explained the disease is so destructive, it’s basically a necessity for animals that contract it, to be put down.
He also said if people took better care of their animals, this could have been prevented.
“Have it vaccinated properly by your vet before you put it in a situation like this,” Pitman continued.
The shelter is now calling on the public to help fix and prevent this from happening again.
“We just want our community to vaccinate, spade and neuter so this doesn’t happen again,” Blenkinsopp said.
If you recently adopted an animal from the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter, you should call and make sure your animal isn’t showing any symptoms. The shelter number is 256-771-7889.