FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth city leaders are taking a closer look at a problem first brought to light by a CBS-11 I-Team investigation.
As we’ve reported, some dogs that were adopted or rescued from the Fort Worth animal shelter, came down with distemper, and some even died.
On Tuesday morning, the city council held a briefing on the issue after receiving an earful from rescue groups.
In the meantime, more people are coming forward to say their dogs also have the disease.
Danielle Stewart says in the past year, 19 sick dogs she’s rescued from the Fort Worth Animal Shelter have had confirmed or suspected cases of distemper, a fast-spreading neurological disease. 13 have died.
She says, “These cases of distemper have put my rescue at a standstill. We have a $10,000 bill. We haven’t been able to pull a dog in over two months because we need to pay our bills.”
Rescue groups tell the CBS-11 I-Team at least 43 dogs that came from the city’s shelter have died of the disease.
Besides rescue groups, citizens say they also adopted dogs from the shelter — they thought were healthy — that came down with distemper.
At a city council briefing today, the shelter’s contract veterinarian, Dr. Michael Morris, said of the 3511 dogs that have either been adopted or rescued from the shelter since last September, they only count ten “presumptive” cases of distemper.
Dr. Morris said, “We’ve tracked down a lot of cases where people say their dogs had distemper and it turns out not to be an issue, it wasn’t.”
Rescue groups say no other municipal shelter in North Texas is having this problem with distemper.
But shelter advisory board member and veterinarian Dr. Tim Morton says shelters in other cities are euthanizing more dogs than Fort Worth, and that his city wants rescue groups to take sick dogs.
Dr. Morton said, “People know they’re sick when they get them, that we may be putting out more animals that are sick, and some of those animals might have distemper.”
Councilman Sal Espino says he’s very concerned about the issue.
He said, “We just need to get to the bottom of this. What do the data really show?”
As for Danielle Stewart, she says the city has asked her for documentation that her dogs came down with distemper. “I contacted the vets office, I got all the positiive lab results, and have since then emailed the shelter all those results.”
She says she’s waiting to hear back from the city.
The city’s code compliance director, Brandon Bennett, says he wants to hear from others who say their dogs came down with the disease after they left the city’s shelter.
Bennett says he wants to receive documentation from them.
The shelter says it vaccinates every dog for distemper, and that it received the highest possible marks during a recent state inspection.
Last week, the shelter met privately with rescue groups to try to resolve their concerns.
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