FORT WORTH, Texas — A huge stop sign now greets visitors at the front entrance of the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control. The Martin Street location is shut down until further notice after employees noticed something wrong with several pets.
"We noticed an increase in the number of sick dogs we were seeing," said Anastasia Ramsey, the acting superintendent at Fort Worth Area Animal Care and Control "But we did perform PCR panels, which are similar to what we saw with COVID, where you do a swab, and it comes back with all the viruses."
Ramsey and her team are working around the clock to stop the illness. They've brought in contractors to help rid the shelter of dangerous viruses. Every surface is being cleaned inside the shelter. In some cases, shelter personnel wear PPE gear while caring for animals which have been diagnosed with an illness.
"We're pulling drains up that haven't been cleaned in probably two years," Ramsey said. "Just because it's not part of their routine cleaning. But we're power washing down on those drains to make sure we're getting any virus particle."
Sadly, the virus has already taken its toll on the animal population. Some of the pets did not respond to treatment. Approximately 20 pets have been euthanized at the Silcox location due to complications associated with CIRDC (Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex). On average, at the height of the viral outbreak, the shelter treated more than 200 pets a day for respiratory disease.
"Unfortunately, those pets did have to be humanely euthanized once they developed things like double pneumonia or other secondary infections," said Ramsey.
The game plan now is to re-open the Martin Street shelter as soon as possible. Because, now more than ever, they need the public's help. Ramsey shared photos of some of the pets available for adoption at their overcrowded North Campus shelter on Hillshire Drive in Fort Worth.
They include Indigo, a one-year-old Australian shepherd mix. There is also a 2-year-old pit bull mix named Butters is also ready for adoption. They also hope someone will fall in love with 8-year-old Athena, a shepherd mix.
"Most of the time people walk in and they don't make it past the first year before they found what they're looking for," said Ramsey.
Ramsey also hopes pet owners and would-be pet owners will take advantage of an upcoming DFW Pets are Family Event in Dallas. Pet owners can get free vaccines, pet supplies, veterinarian services and more. Information about the event can be found here. A similar event is scheduled for the Fort Worth area in June.