Beaver Creek Kennels was initially investigated in September after Kansas state officials were contacted about distemper cases at a Cheyenne, Wyo., pet store, where puppies from the kennel were being sold.
Kansas Livestock Commissioner Bill Brown told the Washington Post that Beaver Creek Kennels had been quarantined twice after distemper was confirmed in several of its puppies that were being sold out of state.
When he couldn’t sell the puppies because of the quarantines, kennel owner Jeff Fortin reportedly ran out of money to take care of them.
Shelters would not take any of the dogs because of the distemper, so they were all euthanized using intravenous injection by the Animal Health Department.
“It was an agonizing decision on everyone’s part,” Brown told the Washington Post. “But when it came down to it, it was a unanimous agreement by all parties that this was the best step.”
Donal O’Toole, a professor and pathologist with the University of Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, said in a statement, “We confirmed distemper in 24 dogs, all purebred and purchased from pet stores. This was the largest outbreak of canine distemper I’ve seen in Wyoming in my 21 years at this laboratory.”
Vaccines that prevent canine distemper are widely available. “We should not be seeing distemper in dogs, period,” O’Toole said. “As long as dogs are vaccinated at the right time with the appropriate vaccine, the chances of distemper are almost zero. It just didn’t happen on this occasion.”
USDA inspection reports for Beaver Creek Kennels over the past three years include violations for failure to adequately treat animals with health problems; allowing trash, junk and discarded kennel materials near large dog enclosures; and failure to keep adequate records. In February 2006, Fortin was fined $8,795 for violations. Last March, he received a warning letter for facility violations and for denying access to inspectors.
Last May, a USDA report found that the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was too lenient with puppy mill violators. O’Toole said the Beaver Creek Kennels case is reflective of this report.
Brown said that under a consent agreement between the Kansas Animal Health Department and Fortin, if he meets stringent requirements, Beaver Creek Kennels can be back in business in six months.