KLVT News was notified by Levelland Police Chief Toney Cowan this morning that on Wednesday, November 5, Levelland Animal Shelter Staff was made aware by Shelter Volunteers that a dog was being sheltered at the Levelland Animal Shelter was confirmed to have ring worm by a local veterinarian. City of Levelland Administration released the following statement in news release.
Ring worm is highly contagious and can spread to other animals and humans as well. While 3 dogs were successfully quarantined, in order to ensure the safety of individuals associated with the Levelland Animal Shelter as well as the other animals, 12 dogs were euthanized shortly after confirmation of the infection. The 3 dogs that were successfully quarantined are being monitored and currently appear to be free of ringworm.
All City of Levelland Animal Wardens are certified through the Texas Department of State Health Services. In order to become certified through the TDSHS, each Animal Warden must undergo extensive training. In situations where there is a risk of an infestation, such as the recent situation at the Levelland Animal Shelter, the TDSHS trains Animal Wardens to eliminate the risk for by euthanizing all animals at risk of the infestation.
“This was a no win situation for everyone involved,” said Assistant Police Chief Tom McCain. Unfortunately based on the existing situation and available resources, this was the only course of action to ensure the immediate safety of the individuals and other animals associated with the Levelland Animal Shelter. As certified Animal Wardens through the TDSHS, Levelland Animal Wardens, simply followed the procedures that they learned in training through TDSHS.”
“While Levelland Animal Wardens took action that was in line with their training, it was an action they do not like to take,” said City Manager Rick Osburn. “We hope we can avoid this action in the future by involving local veterinarian professionals and developing a less objectionable but acceptable procedure for addressing similar situations in the future.
“Under other circumstances the population of the shelter would have been much less,” continued Osburn.
“Regulations provide that animals should be euthanized one week after entering the shelter if they have not been claimed or adopted, however, many of the animals had been in the shelter for months because our animal shelter staff and volunteers want to give every animal as much opportunity as possible to be adopted.”
Customers may call the Levelland Police Department at 894-6164 if you have any questions.
In an interview with Chief Toney Cowan and Asst. Chief Tom McCain who actually is the immediate supervisor for the Animal Control Wardens and operations of the shelter, they both pointed out that all 13 animals that were put down had been at the shelter well over a week, some of them over 2 months and every possible method was used to try and contact owners. It was pointed out that none of the dogs had tags and were not micro-chipped. McCain said that the City tries every way possible to avoid euthinization, however, in this instance it was the only option. It was noted that a local veterinarian advised that at the minimum the treatment would require a daily medication for 4 weeks which the City does not have the resources to fund.
It was also noted that all animals picked up by City Animal Control Officers are dipped for fleas and ticks and all are scanned for a microchip and every effort is made to contact owners.
Several people have taken to social media saying how this was not handled correctly and that the shelter volunteers were not notified of the problem, however, it must be pointed out that shelter volunteers are the ones that notified the animal control officers of the finding by a local veterinarian during a routine medical check which is part of the routine when dogs are brought into the shelter. Chief Cowan said “Our volunteers do a great job and we realize this may have hurt some feelings, but in the end we had to do what was necessary for the safety of all the animals and staff.” KLVT news has researched this issue extensively and every avenue points out, how rapid ringworm can spread. One medical source points out that Ringworm is very difficult to stop because the fungus is difficult to kill and can live in the environment for several months. One treatment is a bath daily with a medicated shampoo and then washing, disinfecting or even discarding the infected animal’s bedding, equipment and toys. It was also pointed out that the fungus can remain active for up to 3 months in an infected animal, even with major treatment plans. According to experts with the American Association for Cruelty to Animals, (ASPCA) the best disinfectant to use is 1 part bleach diluted with 10 parts water. It was pointed out by city officials that the Levelland Animal Shelter has been shut down for 24 hours while the entire facility was totally disinfected from the ceiling to the floor with a bleach solution and even the ground outside the facility that houses the runs for the dogs was disinfected with a bleach solution. It was expected that the shelter would be opened back up late Thursday. This in-depth cleaning process was required by the state following this infestation. It was noted that the facility is cleaned with a bleach solution on a daily basis. KLVT News was invited to the shelter and invited to take pictures by Levelland Police Department. Those pictures are below.