AN OUTBREAK of canine parvovirus has claimed the lives of four dogs at a kennel currently housing some of the ‘pit bull type’ dogs seized or handed in under the recent Merseyside Police amnesty.
A letter from the police authority received last week by DeedNotBreed Chairperson Melanie Page confirms the outbreak, adding that all the dogs presently in the kennels are resident as a result of the hand in and that there are no other dogs being kept at the affected site.
The letter continues:
‘We understand this infection is due to the fact there are a number of animals handed-in or seized by Merseyside Police which were not vaccinated by their owners.
‘Seventeen other dogs have been in vicinity of the affected dogs. Five of these have been returned to their owners, on the advice of veterinary experts, and the owners have been given detailed information on how to monitor their animals. Twelve are still in kennels. None of these animals have displayed any symptoms of the virus and all are being closely monitored.
‘We have taken veterinary advice and guidance from the company that manufactured the vaccine to prevent this virus and all their recommendations have been implemented. All these dogs have been vaccinated and given medication as a precaution. They have been isolated from other dogs at the kennels.
‘I would like to stress that none of the dogs affected by this problem are those that were granted exemptions by the courts last month. Seven of these are housed in a different part of the site and the rest are at other kennels in the region. A good deal of the compliance work needed in advance of these animals being returned to their owners has now been completed and we are confident that the rest will be achieved within the two months allowed.
‘We are in the process of contacting the owners of all the dogs at the kennel affected to inform them of the condition of their animals.’
DNB spokesperson, Ray Morrow commented in a press release issued earlier this week: ‘The dogs affected may be awaiting court cases to decide if they are of prohibited ‘types’, but we feel very strongly that their welfare is no less important than that of any other dog. Many owners were not routinely asked if their dog’s vaccinations were up-to-date or informed if their dogs have received veterinary treatment.’
DeedNotBreed claim that while Merseyside Police have suggested that some of the seized dogs were not vaccinated and could be responsible for the Parvovirus outbreak, the authority has failed to mention that:
Puppies can only receive their first vaccination after eight weeks;
Dogs under extreme stress (such as being separated from their families in an unfamiliar kennel environment) can become infected even if vaccinated;
Parvovirus is a disease which - if not killed by continual disinfecting of kennels with correct anti virulent disinfectants - can linger for many months in the environment. It can also easily be transmitted by kennel staff, visitors and in vehicles used to transport dogs.
Concerned welfare groups including DeedNOTBreed, the Staffycross Welfare Trust and Endangered Dogs Defence & Rescue are calling for the kennelling procedures of seized dogs to be looked into by DEFRA’s Head of Animal Welfare Ben Bradshaw MP,
Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko said, ‘We are extremely saddened that some of the dogs, seized as part of Merseyside Police’s flawed and ill conceived so called ‘dangerous dog amnesty’ have died from parvo virus. Like DNB, we would ask Merseyside Police, at the very least, to contact all owners to ensure that they are aware of the possible implications.
While it would have been better if the amnesty had never taken place, we would urge Merseyside to release all the remaining dogs now so that their owners can ensure they are well and seek veterinary care if needed. It is clear from what has happened that the circumstances in which they are being kept are not suited to their future wellbeing.’
As we go to press, two other dogs are under veterinary care as a result of the infection.