ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Animal Humane New Mexico says the City of Roswell didn’t warn people about a deadly, contagious disease among Roswell Animal Services dogs before letting Animal Humane take several of them back to Albuquerque.

On March 8, Animal Humane New Mexico staff brought several dogs to Albuquerque from Roswell. Seven of the dogs were from the City of Roswell Animal Services, the other 21 were from a Roswell rescue group called Roswell Humane.

The 28 dogs were put in a van altogether to be transported.

Then, on March 9, Roswell Animal Services revealed an outbreak of distemper among its dogs, a deadly and highly contagious disease.

A statement from the City of Roswell said the disease was discovered five days earlier, on March 4, when a rescue group took several dogs from Roswell Animal Services and got them checked out by a veterinarian. Among those rescued dogs, nine confirmed cases of distemper were discovered.

“Unfortunately, Roswell Animal Services knew of the outbreak on March 4, they failed to disclose the situation to Animal Humane,” said Donna Stumpf, Executive Director of Animal Humane New Mexico.

Sure enough, on March 16, Animal Humane New Mexico discovered a case of distemper among the Roswell-area dogs it had picked up. The next day, 14 of the Roswell-area dogs that were picked up had to be put down in Albuquerque.

“It’s very scary,” Animal Humane New Mexico Clinic Manager Val Wilson said. “It’s contagious through airborne exposure, so coughing, sneezing, any nasal discharge, eye discharge.”

Now the remaining dogs from Roswell are in quarantine, being closely watched. They have been given vaccinations for the disease, which is standard protocol for Animal Humane New Mexico.

“Between the arrival of those pets and the quarantine, no Roswell pets had interaction with our current pet population,” Stumpf said.

Even though the situation in Albuquerque in under control, the Animal Humane New Mexico staff is upset and can’t understand why the City of Roswell didn’t warn them about the distemper.

“They should have kept those pets under quarantine, they should have never been available for our shelter to come in and transfer them back,” Stumpf said.

KRQE News 13 called the a City of Roswell spokesman, who said yes, there was a lapse in communication with Animal Humane New Mexico and that the City apologizes for it.

At least 20 more dogs in the Roswell area have been put down because of the disease since the March 4 outbreak discovery.

Roswell Animal Services has set up a temporary shelter for new animal intakes while the dogs exposed to distemper are quarantined.