Valencia Co. Shelter quarantines 15 dogs, euthanizes 2 over distemper concerns

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE)- The Valencia County Animal Shelter director confirms they have euthanized two dogs and have quarantined 15 dogs for possible distemper.

It’s a deadly disease in dogs, that often disguises itself as an upper respiratory infection.

The shelter director said they immediately contacted a county vet to come out to the facility and said they didn’t have to shut it down.

Still, some volunteers said the shelter tried to sweep the issue under the rug and even adopted out some of the sick dogs.

“They aren’t treating it like the problem it is,” said an anonymous volunteer.

Like that volunteer for the county shelter, many others said they’re outraged.

“They’re kind of disregarding either the safety of the animals or public safety, or both,” said another anonymous volunteer.

The volunteers said several rescue groups contacted staff at the shelter last month that had taken dogs from the shelter, and said many of them tested positive for distemper.

“It’s a shelter problem in that they’re not fixing it,” said one volunteer.

They said the shelter didn’t take action until the first week of July.

“They actually didn’t act on anything until comments were made on Facebook,” said another volunteer.

The Valencia County Shelter director said he wasn’t told about the reports until July 1.

“We do know there’s an issue, but I think we’ve caught it soon enough,” said Jess Weston, Director of Animal Control for Valencia County.

Weston said they currently have nine adult dogs and six puppies in quarantine for possible distemper. He said eight others that were adopted out or sent to rescue shelters did test positive.

“I guarantee, you go back there and test, you’re gonna find heart worm, you’re gonna find parvo, you’re gonna find distemper,” said Weston.

He said the county shelter doesn’t have funding in their budget to have a vet on staff or to test every animal brought through their intake facility.

Weston said dogs could have diseases like distemper and parvo and be adopted out. Above all, the director said it’s a community problem that needs to be addressed.

“You need to vaccinate your animals,” said Weston.

He said they’re doing everything the vet recommended to take care of the problem. Since the reports, Weston said two dogs have been euthanized, and a woman who adopted a dog from the shelter put her dog down in just nine days for distemper symptoms.

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