Last month MSNBC ran a story about the euthanization of 1,200 dogs at a Kansas kennel after an outbreak of distemper. The dogs came from a large-scale breeder named Jeff Fortin who ran Beaver Creek Kennels. Fortin was selling dogs infected with distemper out of state and when it was found out, the kennel was quarantined. After that, the safety and welfare of the dogs in his care became an even bigger issue, as Fortin stopped feeding his dogs and couldn’t keep any hired help.
Because of the extremely contagious nature of the disease, no animal shelters would take the dogs, and the decision was made to euthanize.
Distemper is primarily transmitted through the simple act of coughing or sneezing, which is what makes it so contagious. Early symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and mild eye inflammation that may only last a day or two. But as the disease progresses, symptoms get worse, and often the disease leads to encephalomyelitis (an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord) and death.
This is such a sad story with so much loss of life. But it’s a good reminder that if you choose to purchase a dog through a breeder, make sure that breeder is reputable.
Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue.