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January 19, 2012

Puppies Infected with Distemper Linked to Two Pet Stores in Illinois

The HSUS Warns Public About Potential Disease Outbreak Stemming from Naperville and Downers Grove Locations of Happiness is Pets

The Humane Society of the United States has received confirmation of two cases of canine distemper in puppies recently purchased from a pet store chain in the greater Chicago area. The HSUS urges consumers who have recently handled or bought puppies from the Happiness is Pets Naperville or Downers Grove stores in the past two months to be vigilant for any sign of illness in their dogs. If a health concern arises, a veterinarian should be immediately consulted and told about possible exposure to the virus.

“Canine distemper is potentially deadly and is highly contagious to other dogs,” said Kristen Strawbridge, The HSUS’s Illinois state director. “We need to get the word out to the pet-loving public who may be inadvertently exposing their pets to this virus by coming in contact with one of these puppies at a dog park or handling or buying a puppy from the Happiness is Pets Naperville or Downers Grove stores.”

One of the puppies confirmed to have distemper was purchased in December and is still recovering under a veterinarian’s care. The second was purchased in early January and has since died. Caseworkers with The HSUS’ Puppy Mills Campaign are in the process of reviewing additional unconfirmed reports regarding sick puppies purchased from Happiness is Pets.

The HSUS urges anyone who has recently purchased a sick puppy from a pet store, or whose dog has been exposed to such a puppy, to inspect your dog for any signs of illness. Signs of Canine Distemper may include fever, loss of appetite, eye and nasal discharge, or respiratory distress and diarrhea. Consumers who have bought sick puppies from pet stores may report the problem to the IL state Department of Agriculture as well as to The HSUS here.

Update: The HSUS has received new reports of puppies sold at five different locations of Happiness is Pets that have been sickened or killed by the canine distemper virus, bringing The HSUS’ tally to 10 puppies affected in this outbreak. 

Background:
• Unfortunately, if the outbreak is linked to puppy mill sources, it would not be the first Distemper outbreak of its kind. Poor veterinary care standards at puppy mills that sell to pet stores may be to blame.
• For example, in December 2010, the Associated Press reported that approximately 1,200 dogs at a puppy mill in Kansas were euthanized by state authorities after puppies who had been shipped from the facility to pet stores in Wyoming tested positive for Distemper. The owner of that facility, Jeff Fortin, had a history of documented Animal Welfare Act violations for unsanitary conditions and inadequate veterinary care.
• The HSUS recommends never purchasing a puppy from a pet store because many of them come from puppy mills, where sanitation problems and disease outbreaks are common.
• The HSUS urges people who want to get a puppy to consider adopting from a shelter or rescue group first. If deciding to buy from a breeder, potential buyers should always visit the breeder in person to see that the dogs are treated humanely and ensure the puppies and their parents are living in spacious, clean areas. For more information, see humanesociety.org/puppy

 
Media Contact: Jordan Crump, 301-548-7793, jcrump@humanesociety.org

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