So much heartache and suffering could be avoided if people would simply stop purchasing dogs from pet stores and adopt from a local shelter or rescue (or at least a reputable breeder). While it’s not to say a shelter dogs cannot get distemper, but the chances are much less.
Yesterday a third case of canine distemper had been confirmed and traced back to two pet stores in the Chicago area. Puppy mills are suspected at the root of the outbreak.
According to the Human Society of the United States, three puppies diagnosed with the potentially deadly and highly contagious disease were purchased at two Happiness is Pets stores in the Chicago area.
Dakota, a four month old Dachshund, is fighting for her life.
Earlier this month, James Hollensteiner and Natalie Sallee purchased a four-month-old Yellow Lab named Lucy. Soon after the couple welcomed Lucy into their home, she began shaking uncontrollably. The illness had spread to her brain and spine.
The couple ended Lucy’s suffering Tuesday.
While the investigation for the original source is still underway by the Humane Society of the United States, puppy mills are the main suspects for the outbreak. Such epidemics are not uncommon because of the poor veterinary standards in puppy mills.
For example, in December 2010, the Associated Press reported that approximately 1,200 dogs at a puppy mill in Kansas were euthanized by state authorities after puppies who had been shipped from the facility to pet stores in Wyoming tested positive for Distemper. The owner of that facility, Jeff Fortin, had a history of documented Animal Welfare Act violations for unsanitary conditions and inadequate veterinary care.
The HSUS Puppy Mills Campaign urges those looking to get a puppy to avoid buying from a pet store, because the majority of pet stores receive their puppies from puppy mills. Instead, guardians should consider adopting their new family member from a shelter or rescue group.
The HSUS is also encouraging anyone who has recently purchased a sick puppy from a pet store, or whose dog has been exposed to such a puppy, to inspect your dog for any signs of illness. Signs of Canine Distemper may include fever, loss of appetite, eye and nasal discharge, or respiratory distress and diarrhea. Consumers who have bought sick puppies from pet stores may report the problem to the IL state Department of Agriculture as well as to the HSUS.
Our hearts go out to those families and their dogs who have been affected by the horrors of puppy mills.