MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Officials said 49 dogs were euthanized Monday, January 28 due to a distemper outbreak at Mobile County Animal Shelter.
Shelter officials said it was the only solution to stop the spread of the contagious disease. They said euthanasia is standard procedure in cases like this.
A rescue official with whom FOX10 spoke said she was willing to help, but rescue groups were not notified.
On Tuesday, January 29, dogs were slowly being put back into kennels inside the Mobile County Animal Shelter.
Animal Resource Supervisor Andrew Stubbs said, "That was the only option because we don't want to adopt out sick animals to the public."
The Baker Institute at Cornell University said distemper is a highly contagious disease that attacks the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts and the central nervous system.
The Cornell officials said it's largely incurable, and often fatal.
A staff member at the shelter said a dog that was dropped off on January 2 showed serious distemper symptoms over the past few days.
Stubbs said, "The dog had eyes that were bloodshot red. The dog was having seizures in his kennel."
According to the shelter, two volunteer veterinarians determined all adoptable dogs were at risk, so 49 dogs were euthanized.
Stubbs said some of the dogs didn't show distemper symptoms but it would've taken time for a vet to test each dog.
"You have to understand that we are a government shelter, so we cannot basically shut down our operation of taking animals in on a daily basis," said Stubbs.
Robbie Fitzgerald runs 'The S.H.A.C.K.,' or the South Haven Animal Care Kennels. She said her animal rescue group was not notified about this situation. She said she learned about the situation through Facebook.
Fitzgerald said, "Not to reach out to us really throws me off because we have vets that are willing to help. We have other rescues. We have breed specific rescues that are willing to help."
Cornell University said treatment methods take time, and after catching distemper, dogs face life-long side effects.
Fitzgerald agrees distemper is a serious problem, but she just wishes she could've helped.
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