FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas - Ft. Bend county officials believe thousands of animals were killed in the heaving flooding last week, though no official tally has been compiled yet.
In a neighborhood north of Rosenberg today, neighbors complained about two horse carcasses that were washed into family's backyard at the intersection of Cay Road and Chris Road.
Fernando Chavez, working nearby to clean up his brother's flooded house, says the smell of the decomposing bodies is overpowering.
“You can smell it, we wear masks all day out here.” Chavez said.
County workers were unable to move the carcasses because of decomposition, so the dead animals were covered with lime to speed the process. The county is using that technique in cases where animal carcasses are either too remote or too badly decomposed to be removed.
Stock officers with the Ft. Bend Sheriff's Department, and rescue workers from Texas A&M and the Texas Animal Commission, have rescued 127 horses, and reunited all but one of them with their owners.
But Ft. Bend Sheriff's Deputy W.F. “Bill” Jenkins estimates thousands of other animals perished.
“There are a lot of carcasses, cattle, horses, goat, sheep, chickens, also dogs. Ft. Bend County is doing the best they can to dispose of them. If not, they are providing time to put on top of the animals to help with decomposition.” Jenkins said.
Shelters are open in Sugar Land, Simonton, and Rosenberg. The Ft. Bend Animal Shelter in Rosenberg is filled to capacity with dogs and cats abandoned in the flooding.
Some animals have been reunited with their owners. The shelter's director, Rene Vasquez says those animals that aren't claimed won't be euthanized, but will be held for adoptions.
“We'll treat them as shelter animals. Once their date is cleared, we'll do our best to get them adopted.” Vasquez said.
The shelter is asking for volunteers to provide foster housing for some of the animals, and the shelter is lowering the normal price from adopting from one hundred dollars to twenty-five. That fee pays for shots, spaying or neutering, and to implant an identification chip beneath an animals’ skin.
There is also a new worry. The receding water left behind a bumper crop of mosquitoes, which can infect dogs with heart worms.
Dr. Cara Longshore, DVM, with the Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, says heart worms are always a problem in warm weather, but that dog owners in the flood area now need to be especially vigilant.
“If we diagnose them, we can get them treated. And most dogs will do really well with that.” Longshore said.
The Ft. Bend Animal Shelter is located at 1210 Blume Road in Rosenberg, and can be reached at 281-342-1512.
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