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Dogs Face Threat from Distemper in Odessa

A deadly dog disease outbreak in Odessa has some people concerned about the city having to euthanize some dogs.
ODESSA TX (Local Big 2 News) - An outbreak of a deadly disease is affecting dogs in the Odessa City Animal Shelter.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life, and I've worked in animal rescue for 16 years," says Holly Dool, a member of Odessa's Shelter Advisory Committee and Citizens for Animals of Midland and Odessa.

Sometimes the shelter must euthanize animals because of severe overcrowding, a bigger issue with recent population boom in the Permian Basin.

"As a result, yes we have to euthanize animals, nobody likes to do it but that's the reality," says Odessa City Manager Richard Morton.

"As much as I hate to do that, sometimes that helps control the disease," explains Odessa Police Lieutenant Jerry Harvell.

A disease called distemper, attacking a dog's nervous system, and animal activist Holly Dool says it's on the rise.

"The distemper outbreak has been happening since october and instead of getting better it's been getting worse," states Dool.

However, Harvell says dog health improved in recent weeks.

"Adoptable dogs for several weeks now have not had to be put down which is good for everyone," says Harvell.

Dool says the community needs to rally behind building a new larger shelter to prevent future disease outbreaks.

"Yes they have been doing some things, but I think it's time to put some emergency measures in place to try to save the lives of some of these dogs," explains Dool.

Emergency measures such as a volunteer foster home for puppies, who are at greatest risk from distemper.

"Honestly we just don't have many puppies that are coming out of the shelter right now." Dool says with sadness.

Multiple petitions on website change.org complain about the Odessa animal shelter and their leadership, but Odessa City Manager Richard Morton thinks complaints are off base.

"The shelter and the employees at the shelter, they are actually the good guys," he says.

Odessa officials say preventing unwanted pets in the first place helps end euthanizations.

"If you're not going to breed your animals then please please get them spayed or neuteured," urges Morton.

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