Friday, November 19, 2021

City of San Angelo Animal Shelter Situation Deteriorates

The City of San Angelo Animal Shelter remains closed to the public.  The City reduced services to emergency only on November 4th due to staff shortages, doing so until further notice.  The situation deteriorated due to a widespread, mystery illness amongst the dog population.   The public learned of this development yesterday.

Concho Valley PAWS is the adoption coordinator and veterinary service provider for the city Animal Shelter.  

The initial notice on November 4th was issued by the city (Facebook, Twitter) and Concho Valley PAWS. Since that time all communications have arisen from contractor PAWS. 

PAWS began asking for a specific food donation on Tuesday, November 16th at 5:17 am.  

We are in real need of dog food. Please consider helping with a donation of Pedigree dog food. This is what we are currently feeding and it helps prevent GI issues if we can keep our pets on the same food.

PAWS announced it would be closed on Wednesday, November 17th for staff training. 

News of the mystery illness involving dogs at the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter broke Thursday, November 18th at 9:53 am.  

PAWS stated:

We are currently unable to facilitate adoptions for pets residing at the shelter due to an unknown and widespread illness

Today PAWS reiterated its dog food appeal:

We are still in need of dog food as we are committed to providing the shelter with food for the next 10 days as we try to identify what has caused several dogs to fall ill. Our veterinary team suggested pulling the shelter's food until testing is complete.  

The uniform food appeal to investigate possible sources of widespread dog illness arose on Tuesday.  It took two more days for contractor PAWS to share the outbreak with the public.  The City of San Angelo's juggernaut Public Information Office remained on the sidelines.  It's website news page has nothing on the staff shortage or illness outbreak.

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee will meet next February 17, 2022.  

It last met in June. Two meetings scheduled for August and October were cancelled or failed to meet the quorum requirement.  

There is little expectation of oversight by this body as it is dominated by city staff and representatives from Concho Valley PAWS.

Update 11-23-21:  PAWS has no information on its Facebook or Twitter page and the City has issued no press releases thus far in November on Animal Shelter issues (staff shortages and disease outbreak).  PAWS assured citizens on 11-18 it would "share more as it knew more."   Nothing, thus far. 

Update 11-24-21:  Silence remains the primary means of informing the public on the shelter's twin problems of low staffing and the mystery disease outbreak.  The city did share it is hiring and three of the positions are in Animal Services.  Concho Valley PAWS promised update is yet to come.  Distemper tests take 1-4 days to complete.  It's been nearly a week since the disease outbreak was announced by PAWS.

Facebook comments from PAWS on November 19th said:

Our veterinary team feels that this situation is isolated to shelter residents with exposure sometime around Wednesday of last week. However, until testing comes back we won't have answers so we are acting out of an abundance of caution.   11-19-21 at 8:20 am

We are working with our veterinary team to determine when we can move forward with surgeries and releasing pets but I expect those decisions won't be made until after test results come back and unfortunately testing takes 7 business days which will put us after the holiday.  11-19-21 at 8:25 am

We are answering calls between 1pm-7pm Wednesday- Saturday. We are simply closed for adoptions.  11-18-21 at 3:36 pm

This is where the lines between PAWS and the Animal Shelter need to be clearer.  The Shelter announced on 11-4-21 it would be closed for all but emergency services until further notice.

Update 11-27-21:  One week ago a citizen asked "What are the symptoms of the dogs who are affected?" on PAWS Facebook page.  No reply to date.

Update 12-1-21:   The city reported shelter dogs had been "given an unknown substance", i.e. poisoned and the matter had been referred to SAPD for investigation.

Update 12-10-21:  Animal Shelter leadership reported the criminal act to SAPD on Friday, November 19th at 4:31 pm.  The City waited twelve days before informing the public.

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