AN ALLEGED outbreak of canine brucellosis on a ‘puppy farm’ in Ireland could pose a serious public health risk, as the disease is transmissible to humans, the Dublin SPCA and the Ulster SPCA have warned.
In a press release issued over the weekend and carried in the Irish media, they say the owner of the farm, on which there are allegedly 700 breeding bitches and up to 300 puppies, refused to sign an undertaking not to move the dogs off-site before officials from the Department of Agriculture or Environment could properly assess the situation.
The claims were rejected by a spokeswoman at the breeder’s facility, claiming instead that the two welfare agencies were involved in ‘intimidation’.
Jimmy Cahill, chief executive of the DSPCA, said a cordon must be put around the farm, which is near Moate, Co Offaly, and warned of a possible epidemic among dogs if any of the animals were moved.
Canine brucellosis is transmissible to humans and causes liver damage and arthritis. In dogs it causes pregnant bitches to miscarry and infertility, Mr Cahill went on to say ‘We got accurate information on Friday that this man was intending moving and selling these dogs and we acted on it,’ said Mr Cahill. ‘He did admit he had an outbreak and our inspectors spent four and a half hours at the farm trying to contact officials from the Departments of
Agriculture and Environment to come and close the farm until this is dealt with. We are calling on the Agriculture or Environment Department to take immediate action and quarantine this puppy farm to prevent any further contamination of the canine population. Each hour increases the risk of a countrywide brucellosis epidemic.
‘The guards were very helpful but the owners refused to let us see the dogs or any of the carcasses. If there is an outbreak of canine brucellosis it could have a devastating impact on the greyhound industry,’ he said.
A spokeswoman at the facility claimed that ‘nobody has confirmed positive test results. There are no tests for any results to be done. There is no confirmation or results to say there is an outbreak.’ She also rejected any claim that they were a “puppy farm”, saying: ‘We don’t do puppy farming. We are dog breeders and reputable ones.’
She said that she did advise the USPCA that no animals would leave the premises over the weekend and confirmed last night that while she would not be moving anything, she could not stand over what anyone one else on the farm might do.
She questioned the motives of the DSPCA and USPCA and said the approach of the welfare organisations was one of ‘intimidation’. She said her vet would be speaking to animal welfare officials on Tuesday.
Last night a Department of Agriculture veterinary source said an outbreak of canine brucellosis would be extremely unusual.
Stephen Philpott, Chief Executive, USPCA, said “Puppy farming in Ireland, unlike most European countries, has no regulations governing its practice. In the absence of effective legislation in both the North and South the USPCA is constantly warning the puppy buying public of the pitfalls that can lurk in an apparently innocuous looking ad offering them the puppy of their dreams. This outbreak underlines our countless warnings; the puppy farming industry in Ireland, fuelled by greed, breeds both dogs and disease and must be properly regulated.”
As OUR DOGS was going to press on Tuesday we were made aware of a meeting between the Department of Agriculture in Ireland and the vets, together with the Department of the Environment. One aspect of the discussions was to establish which department is responsible for dealing with any possible outbreak. OUR DOGS also contacted the Irish kennel Club and their President Mr Sean Delmar said that no one had been in touch with them which was surprising, bearing in mind they are the authority for canine matters in Ireland.
It would appear that no tests had been carried out at the time of going to press, so it was hard to see where the rumour of an outbreak had started and in the absence of any kind of veterinary examination, it is thought that no assumptions should be made until action is taken to establish the truth.
Brucellosis is a disease of the reproductive tract which may cause abortion in females, infection of the sexual organs in males, and infertility in both sexes. It is caused by a bacteria of which there are several different types that infect specifically cows, goats, pigs, horses, sheep or dogs. Though there have been isolated incidences of dogs becoming infected by contact with livestock infected with one of the other species of Brucella bacteria, the bacteria that infects dogs specifically is called Brucella canis. It is spread by contact with the semen or vaginal discharge of an infected dog or bitch (most commonly during mating), by contact with mammary secretions and aborted puppies, and can also possibly be spread by contact with urine or other body secretions. In indoor kennel situations, it may even possibly be spread by the airborne route. It can be contagious to humans, in whom it causes flu-like symptoms.
European dog show
With the European dog show now less than a month away, exhibitors will be looking for guidance and re assurance from the authorities and OUR DOGS will bring you the latest development on this situation either in next weeks issue or online.
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