FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – After three confirmed cases of distemper among their shelter dogs, Fort Bend County Animal Services is cleaning house in more ways than one.
Through the cracks of the cages, and among the canines in the kennels, a disease is drifting.
"It is the last thing you want to hear as a shelter. Because, as I said, it's airborne. It's impossible," to prevent, said Barbara Vass, Fort Bend County Animal Services community involvement coordinator.
It's also an illness that's hard to control.
"The dogs that we bring in, we don't know their vaccine history, we don't know what they've been exposed to," Vass said.
Three of those dogs once taking shelter in Fort Bend County have now turned into patients, sickened with distemper.
"Distemper can be fatal if not caught in time," Vass said.
The airborne disease floating among the 80 pups attacks the dog's respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.
Vass with says they don't know how the disease got there, but it's most likely from a stray. She says finding the pups a new home is no longer optional, it's now mandatory.
"Anybody who can step up and help us right now, we're really looking for their help," Vass said.
Vass says the dogs aren't safe at their shelter. They all need to be fostered. And once they're gone, staff members hope to scrub away every trace of the disease left behind.
"The goal is to not bring them back in to the shelter because we want to make sure it's a safe environment for any dog to come into," Vass said.
The shelter is looking for people to foster the dogs for roughly a month, just to monitor their symptoms. They hope to find permanent homes, but they say, at this point, they'll take any help they can get.
The adoption fees will all be waived, and they will provide medical support to any family or rescue that helps out.
If you would like to help, contact the shelter at 281-342-1512.