A suspected case of canine brucellosis has yet to be confirmed at a Westmeath dog farm.
The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stated on its official website on Sunday that they are concerned about “a potentially devastating outbreak of a virulent disease among animals kept on the premises”.
The breeder is continuing to maintain that there are no confirmed cases of canine brucellosis on the farm while the DSPCA say they have confirmed reports that the disease is present.
They are waiting for the Department of Agriculture or Environment to intervene to quarantine the farm, but the family’s vet has not confirmed the disease and neither has any independent source.
Gardaí from Tullamore were with the DSPCA when they visited the site between Horseleap and Moate on Saturday, acting on information from what they call “reliable sources”.
Canine brucellosis is spread among mating dogs and causes abortions in bitches, which are then infertile. It is also carried by males.
In limited circumstances, the disease can be contracted by humans working in close proximity to infected dogs, their excrement and urine and aborted foetuses. It leads to arthritis and liver problems.
In their statement, the DSPCA describes the site as “one of Europe’s largest mass breeding establishments,” and “a puppy farm,” which is strenuously denied by a spokesperson for the family.
“We don’t do puppy farming. We are dog breeders and reputable ones.” However, she refused to confirm or deny whether the DSPCA’s figure of 700 breeding bitches was accurate.
She said the officials behaved in an intimidating and humiliating manner.
“It’s absolutely humiliating for a reputable breeder,” she said. “Why not come and approach us in a nice manner, knock on the door, speak to us and tell us about the issues? Why bring media people and the Gardaí?”
“We have the most healthy, well-kept dogs,” she said and added that there are regular veterinary checks.
She denied categorically that anyone had confirmed four positive tests for canine brucellosis in the last month and refuted comments made in the DSPCA that they refused to commit to not removing dogs from the site until the Departments of Agriculture or Environment took responsibility for the alleged outbreak.
“It is completely wrong that four tests were done and four tests were positive. Nobody confirmed four positive tests.”
The DSPCA claims that if the disease is present, the farm may have to be depopulated and dogs bought there in the last month may not breed.
The Department of Agriculture has said that even if the disease is present it will have no effect on the brucellosis-free status application that many farmers are awaiting.
They say the disease is not notifiable and is a matter for the family and their vet.