Canine Distemper Virus is what led to some 1,200 dogs being euthanized earlier this month in northwest Kansas, according to information released Wednesday by the Kansas Animal Health Department.
The Tribune had reported earlier this week that the disease had been suggested as being tied into the issue.
The KAHD news release noted that “over 1,000 dogs were signed over” to the department by a state and federally licensed “Kansas kennel operator when it was discovered that CDV was circulating in his facility. Laboratory tests indicated that this virus was not confined to the facility but had spread to pet stores in other states where the kennel owner sold his dogs.”
The destruction of those dogs came after months of dealing with this issue, it was noted. “The facility had been placed under quarantine by KAHD twice since mid October, but repeated testing of the puppies indicated that the distemper virus was still present throughout the kennel. The potential of pregnant females giving birth to infected puppies meant the quarantine had to extend for several months, during which time the owner would be unable to sell or move any dogs. Quarantining the puppies meant the kennel owner had no income flow.”
The situation reached a point that the breeding facility could not remain open, it was added. “Consequently, in addition to disease issues, this facility was financially unable to maintain its work force, and was having difficulty maintaining proper sanitation and keeping the dogs fed and watered. It was apparent the owner could not survive financially under these conditions; nor did he want to chance spreading disease any further outside his facility. These combined factors lead to the determination that all dogs would have to be removed from the facility, the quarantine continued on the empty kennel and a cleanup period implemented to allow for a significant time to clean and disinfect before dogs could be returned to the premise.”
Also, it was explained, the very size of the facility made it difficult to continue.
“The knowledge that CDV was present in this facility meant that shelters would not take these animals unless they had been through an extended quarantine period.
“Quarantine in place was not an option due to the inability of the facility to continue to feed, water and care for the dogs, as well as the continued circulation of virus throughout the facility. The large number of dogs housed at the kennel made testing unfeasible so the determination of an individual dog’s freedom from infection impossible to determine.
“Though some dogs were removed from the facility and placed in extended quarantine, the majority of the dogs and puppies were humanely euthanized to prevent the possible spread of disease to other kennels or shelters and to prevent suffering that may have occurred if the owner had been unable to continue to care for them.”
This issue surfaced locally on Monday morning when it was discussed by the Barton County Commission. County Administrator Richard Boeckman told commissioners that Landfill Manager Mark Witt had contacted him last week, explaining that, since Barton County maintains a state-approved regional landfill, he’d been contacted about this situation that had developed near Oberlin, the county seat of Decatur County in northwest Kansas, just south of the Nebraska border.
Witt had been contacted by state officials from the Kansas Animal Health Department about the probable necessity of disposing of 1,200 dog carcasses.
Though it wasn’t addressed in Wednesday’s release from the KAHD, according to state records it was Jeff Fortin, of Beaver Creek Kennel, outside of Oberlin in northwest Kansas, who received the state permits to dispose of dog carcasses on rural property that he owns.
The permit was received Dec. 6, and a KDHE letter was sent out Dec. 8, outlining the “authorization #635, disposal of solid waste without a permit located in ... Decatur County. Disposal of unprocessed livestock carcasses (canines).”