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Dozens Sickened By Infection That Likely Came From Petland Puppies

Veterinarian Reviewed on September 20, 2017 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Dogs

At least 39 people have been sickened by a bacterial infection that may have come from puppies purchased at nationwide chain Petland.

The bacteria known as Campylobacter can be spread through raw or undercooked poultry or meat in addition to contact with dog feces. Symptoms in human and dogs include bloody diarrhea, vomiting and fever, though most patients reportedly recover within a week.

The condition of the 39 patients was not disclosed but nine have been hospitalized since the outbreak began last September.

The Suspected Source Is Difficult To Deny

According to the Washington Post, the Center for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) announced on September 11 that an investigation has been launched after scientific analysis revealed one or more Petland stores could be responsible for the infection that has so far spread to Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Twenty-seven of the 39 patients have either recently purchased a Petland puppy, visited a Petland store, or visited a home containing a Petland puppy. Twelve of the patients work at Petland but it’s unclear if they all work at the same store or multiple stores.

Petland chief executive Joe Watson told the Washington Post that Petland typically only tests puppies for Campylobacter if symptoms arise. Animal patients, however, sometimes do not exhibit symptoms despite being able to spread the infection.

The CDC has said that symptoms have only been observed in some of the Petland puppies linked to the outbreak.

Activists Are Not Surprised

Petland’s health warranty provides veterinary treatment for bacteria conditions and would therefore cover the costs of treating an infected puppy.

While the infection is spread from dog to human via dog feces or possibly vomit, customers of potentially-infected puppies are advised to not let their dogs lick their faces and always wash their hands after touching their pets.

The outbreak comes just two months after the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a class-action lawsuit against Petland for intentionally withholding health-related information from customers.

All Petland dogs and cats are said to have been examined by two or three veterinarians but Matthew Liebman, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s director of litigation, told the Post that these examinations are far from thorough, if they are even conducted at all.

“It’s not hard to see how animals raised in these cramped and unsanitary conditions, trucked hundreds of miles from puppy mills to the pet stores, intermingled with other fragile young animals and handled by numerous employees and customers could become disease vectors,” he said.

A History Of Fraud

Campylobacter was not among the illnesses reported by customers named in the lawsuit, which Watson referred to as “baseless.”

“Regardless of where you obtain your family dog, all dogs are carbon-based life-forms, and just like our own kids, they are subject to a wide variety [of] illness,” Watson said. “We take every precaution possible to ensure the health of our pets.”

More than 200 American cities have passed measures banning pet shops from selling puppies raised at puppy mills. Petland is currently the only nationwide chain that buys its puppies from commercial breeders, which may or may not be similar to puppy mills.

Last June, two California pet shops were accused of withholding breeder information from customers. A third pet shop in the state had previously labeled a very sick dog to have come from a home-based breeder when it had really come from a mass-breeding operation in the Midwest.

“Reputable breeders never, ever sell to a pet store,” animal rights activist Andrea Cunningham told NBC San Diego at the time.

Read also: Different Types of Dog Diarrhea and How to Respond

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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