According to the Associated Press, approximately 1,200 dogs at a Kansas puppy mill were euthanized because of a distemper outbreak that was discovered when sick puppies from the mill reached pet stores in Wyoming. The ASPCA wasn’t involved in this tragic case, but we think it serves as a powerful reminder that it’s never a good idea to purchase animals from pet stores, which are often supplied by substandard commercial breeders.
Distemper is a complicated disease to manage in any population of animals because it has a long incubation period and long shedding period, and diagnosis can be tricky. It can take months to contain an outbreak, and affected animals may have complications later in life or not survive the disease. Proper vaccination can greatly reduce the risk of distemper.
Wyoming pet stores reported 24 cases of the highly contagious and lethal disease, all in dogs from one puppy mill in Oberlin, Kansas. The mill, Beaver Creek Kennels, was subsequently quarantined twice. Because he couldn’t sell any puppies during the quarantines, Beaver Creek Kennels owner Jeff Fortin ran out of money to care for the dogs. Authorities were unable to find shelters to take the dogs due to the distemper, so the Kansas Animal Health Department made the decision to euthanize all of them. The dogs were buried on farmland in Decatur County, Kansas.
Kansas law requires commercial breeders to provide their dogs with adequate veterinary care, but Fortin has a recorded history of failing to adequately treat animals with health problems—USDA inspectors have cited him for this as well as for failure to keep adequate records and for allowing trash, junk and discarded kennel materials near large dog enclosures. In spite of a host of violations stretching back three years, Fortin was allowed to remain in business and continue supplying puppies to pet stores.
The story doesn’t end here: if Fortin meets certain requirements, Kansas authorities will allow Beaver Creek Kennels to be back in business in six months.
To learn more about how you can help end practices like Fortin’s, please read our list of ways to Help Fight Puppy Mills.