Memphis Animal Shelter euthanizes dogs to stop outbreak - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Animal Shelter euthanizes dogs to stop distemper outbreak

Most of the animals in the pet adoption area of the Memphis Animal Shelter had to be euthanized due to a distemper outbreak at the shelter.

City officials confirmed that about 20 to 25 adoptable animals were euthanized Saturday.

Vice President of Meows and Bow Wows Ona Cooper had hoped to rescue one of the animals that had to be euthanized.

"But it was too late," said Cooper.

Cooper's husband went to pull the four-month-old puppy for the rescue group Saturday afternoon but was told he could not.

"They had had an outbreak of distemper and they had euthanized the puppy that day," said Cooper.

News of the distemper outbreak spread when Friends of Memphis Animal Services, a group of volunteers, posted a Facebook message that said, "it was a sad day at the Animal Shelter today.  The animals in the adoption area were euthanized in an attempt to contain a distemper outbreak."

Memphis Animal Services Veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Coleman said 90 animals were euthanized Saturday, with 20 to 25 of them killed because of the outbreak.  

Coleman said the shelter started seeing distemper cases in January.  She said it is a common problem in animal shelters.

"For them to massively euthanize all those animals is very disturbing," said Cooper.

President of Meows and Bow Wows Billy Ellinger said the shelter should have made an announcement about the distemper outbreak.

"There had been some rumors prior that several dogs adopted by the public had tested positive for distemper and had to be euthanized or treated," said Ellinger.  "That was never confirmed by the shelter until yesterday."

Many animal advocates said this is why every dog that comes to the shelter should be vaccinated for distemper.  Coleman said only the adoptable dogs are vaccinated.

Coleman added that is because the other dogs are not at the shelter long enough for the vaccine to work.

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