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Update: Puppy buyers beware

Submitted by Newsroom on December 16, 2010 – 7:15 amOne Comment


RIVERTON, Wyo. – Now here’s a follow-up to a story broadcast earlier in the week about the distemper outbreak in Wyoming dogs that was brought into the state from Kansas. We learned yesterday that an estimated 1,200 dogs at the Kansas kennel where the outbreak was traced have been euthanized.

Bill Brown is the livestock commissioner for Kansas. He says the state started investigating a kennel near Oberlin in September after being contacted by Wyoming’s state veterinarian.

On Wednesday, the Kansas commissioner said the Kansas Animal Health Department quarantined the kennel twice after distemper was diagnosed there. The kennel’s owner couldn’t sell the quarantined dogs and eventually couldn’t afford to pay for staff or upkeep of the kennels.

Because of the circumstances, he says, euthanizing the dogs was the only way to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease. Most of the dogs put down were adults.

From information provided by The Associated Press

CANINE DISTEMPER – First broadcast Dec. 14, 2010

Be careful where buying pets — CLICK HERE

By News Director Leslie Stratmoen

RIVERTON, Wyo. – If you’re looking to buy a puppy for Christmas, state officials say check out the dealer first. Pathologist Donal O’Toole of the state vet lab and professor of the University of Wyoming’s veterinary science department says a list of problematic dealers can be found online at

These Labrador mix puppies are available for adoption at the Riverton shelter.

It’s particularly important right now, he says, because of a recent outbreak of canine distemper. The potentially deadly disease was confirmed in 24 dogs, between late August and early October. All were purebreds purchased in pet stores in Cheyenne and Casper that were traced back to a large breeding facility in Kansas. Those sick dogs ended up in Laramie and Douglas, along with Cheyenne and Casper. No further cases have been seen since distemper was confirmed Oct. 8 in a Shih Tzu pup from Douglas.

The outbreak was investigated by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory and the Wyoming Livestock Board and now the Kansas facility is under quarantine and Kansas animal inspectors are working with the owners to improve vaccination protocols.

As for the Wyoming cases, O’Toole says it’s the largest outbreak he’s seen of canine distemper during his 21 years at the state laboratory and could have been prevented because vaccines are readily available.

He says dogs just need to be vaccinated at the right time with the appropriate vaccine and the chances of contracting distemper fall to nearly zero. However, when that does not happen, the viral disease spreads because it’s highly contagious and the animal suffers depression, respiratory distress and diarrhea, which at clinical status can kill the animal or force euthanization.

So, since backgrounds of pups purchased from stores is often unclear even though a store owner is conscientious and concerned about animal health, the state officials says it’s better to buy from a local animal shelter or small-scale private breeder you know. Even better, are the ones who are more than happy to show you their facilities and breeding animals.

From information provided by the University of Wyoming

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1 Comment

Comment by Catvando
2010-12-15 18:44:29

I wish you had included the webpage URL with this article. I tried to find this list of problematic breeders and cannot find it, no matter which search path I follow…if anyone has the actual webpage URL or knows an easier way to find this list, please let me know? Thank you! :)

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