Puppy Mill Euthanizes 1,200 Dogs After Virus Outbreak
by Sharon S.
December 23, 2010
An estimated 1,200 dogs at a Kansas puppy mill were euthanized after an outbreak of distemper in several Wyoming pet shops was traced to the commercial breeding facility.
The Kansas Livestock Commission began investigating the Beaver Creek Kennels after twenty-four puppies at pet stores in Cheyenne and Casper, Wyoming came down with the highly contagious distemper virus.
The common link between the sick puppies was their purchase from the commercial kennel that is owned by breeder Jeff Fortin.
The outbreak of the often-fatal disease is the largest one Wyoming officials have ever seen. The University of Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory is working hard to figure out the exact strain of the virus and the best way to medically treat the sick puppies.
But news of the epidemic brought about a different outcome for the approximately 1,200 dogs that were exposed to the disease at Beaver Creek Kennels.
There was no one at a laboratory working feverishly to help them.
Instead, the Kansas Animal Health Department came to the puppy mill and euthanized all of the dogs through intravenous injection.
Both the Livestock Commission and Animal Health Department described the decision to destroy 1,200 innocent lives as “agonizing.” The dogs were buried on a nearby farm.
The saddest part of this story is the distemper outbreak at the puppy mill was no surprise to officials. Jeff Fortin’s kennel had been in trouble since 2006 when he was fined $8,795 for violations about recordkeeping and “failure to adequately treat animals with health problems.”
The dogs at Beaver Creek Kennels were put under quarantine on two other occasions by the Animal Health Department for confirmed cases of distemper and Fortin was temporarily suspended from selling puppies.
Each time Fortin’s dogs were placed under quarantine, he fell further behind financially. He ran out of money to pay the staff that took care of the dogs.
Livestock Commissioner Bill Brown said, “It became an economic situation, and consequently became a health, safety and welfare issue for the puppies. The owner couldn’t feed his dogs, his help left, and health, safety and welfare became an even bigger issue.”
Animal shelters in the area refused to rescue the dogs because of the threat of the disease. So the decision was ultimately made to euthanize all of them.
The lives of the remaining puppies at the pet shops are in the hands of the veterinary laboratory in Wyoming.
And if you are wondering about the future for Jeff Fortin – under a consent agreement between the Kansas Animal Health Department, Fortin is eligible to be back in business in six months if he meets the requirements.