Iowa Puppy Mill Ground Zero for Disease Transmitted from Dogs to People

Multiple cases of canine brucellosis, a disease that can be transmitted from dogs to humans, have recently been reported in Iowa.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that ground zero for this outbreak has been determined to be Double G Kennels—a small commercial breeding facility in Marion County, Iowa—that has the dubious distinction of being part of the Humane Society of the United States’ 2018 “Horrible Hundred” list of the worst puppy mills in the country.

The Humane Society recently released its 2019 “Horrible Hundred,” where the state of Iowa ranked as the second-worst for puppy mill problems in the United States. (The worst state is Missouri.)

Canine brucellosis, which is chronic and has no cure, is caused by the bacteria Brucella canis (B.canis). The disease is highly contagious among dogs. It can cause reproductive issue—including infertility, spontaneous abortions and stillbirths in females and sperm abnormalities in males—according to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Iowa State University.

Humans rarely become infected with B.canis. The flu-like symptoms typically include fever, headache and weakness. But for pregnant women, it’s far more serious: the bacteria can cause miscarriages and premature births.

“That’s why if we do have a positive dog, it has to be put down,” Amy Heinz, founder and executive director of AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport in Iowa, told the Washington Post. A pregnant woman “could find comfort in her little furry friend, and it could be her little furry friend that caused her miscarriage.”

According to a Facebook post, AHeinz57 bought 32 dogs from Double G Kennels, which also sold puppies online through iowapuppies.com, at a going-out-of-business auction on May 4. Those dogs are now all in quarantine.

“We were hoping to give them a better life and not have to sit in a cage all day, but they’re back to sitting in cages all day,” Heinz told KCCI.

Double G Kennels is closed—hopefully permanently—and under quarantine while its dogs are tested for canine brucellosis. Any dogs who test positive will most likely lose their lives.

“Because there is a human health risk, you can either have the option of quarantining those dogs for the rest of their lives, or we would recommend euthanizing,” Iowa Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Keely Coppess said.

The disease can be tricky to detect, Edward Dubovi, a professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told the Washington Post. Infected dogs can seem healthy. Dogs that have been given antibiotics, which is a common practice in puppy mills, can test negative even though they do have the disease.

“Part of the problem is it’s difficult to treat,” Dubovi said. “Some of the tests go negative once treated, so you look like you’re getting a good dog, but it’s chronically infected.”

Probably the best way to be certain you’re getting a good dog is to not buy one from a commercial breeder or from any pet store that gets its dogs from puppy mills.

What You Need to Know About Canine Brucellosis

People with the highest risk of becoming infected with canine brucellosis, according to the IDPH, are dog breeders and veterinarians who come into contact with dog placentas and birthing fluids.

The most common symptoms of an infection in people are fever, sweats, headache, joint pain and weakness. Along with pregnant women, children and the elderly are at greater risk of developing more serious symptoms.

Anyone who has recently gotten a small dog from Marion County is advised by state veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand to get their pet tested.

Take Action

  • For the safety of dogs and people, Double G Kennels should never be allowed to re-open, and any healthy dogs remaining at the facility should be adopted out or given to rescue organizations. Please sign and share this petition urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to shut down this dangerous puppy mill.
  • To learn how to help AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport care for the dogs in quarantine, visit its website or Facebook page.
  • Adopt, don’t shop!

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youll find Care2s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

90 comments

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