5NEWS Exclusive: Woman Adopts Dog Diagnosed With Distemper

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)—As the Sebastian County Humane Society deals with dozens of cases of canine distemper, the owner of a dog that had to be put down a short time after she adopted him spoke exclusively with 5NEWS on Monday (June 27).

“They called and let me know, this distemper case happened there, and bring him in for a booster, so they offered at that point if we wanted to give him back and get a refund, and I was like no, because we loved him, we wanted to keep him,” Candice O’Neal said.

But Milo died. O’Neal’s family only had the dog for a week when he started showing all the signs on canine distemper.

“It was upsetting, but I kind of knew it was coming because he had been there in quarantine for so long,” O’Neal said.

A source shared these photos only with 5NEWS:

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They were taken on April 11. Several dogs, potentially even Milo, may have encountered these conditions. We showed the photos to Sebastian County Humane Society executive director Joseph Sprague.

“This is when we had an individual that was supposedly supposed to be a supervisor, and he wasn`t doing his job, and I`m sure those are where those pictures came from that particular  supervisor,” Sprague said.

The person who took the pictures never worked for SCHS, but they said they do have years of experience keeping animals’ environments clean.

Since the first case of distemper, Sprague said they’ve been thoroughly cleaning the shelter twice a day.

“The cleaning schedule was pretty much the same as it was before,” he said. “We clean in the morning and we clean in the afternoon, but in the afternoon they would just hose down.”

Sprague would not allow 5NEWS cameras in the admission area for sanitary reasons. He said volunteers aren’t allowed back there either. He allowed us to shoot video in the lobby.

As for Candice, she said she was impressed by the facility's cleanliness and volunteers. She said the loss was hard for her family, but she would adopt from the shelter again once distemper is no longer an issue.

“He was really great for our family,” she said. “He was a really good fit.”

Sprague said he expects 187 additional distemper tests in sometime this week. Meanwhile, dog adoptions are still on hold.


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