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Don't Buy the Lies:

Max the Boxer -- What is Brucellosis?

"Now accepting QUALITY consignments. Only quality breeding stock or healthy and marketable puppies will be accepted."
-- From print ads for the Thorp Dog Auction

Max the Boxer tested positive for brucellosis.
(Click on photo for larger view & caption )

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Note: in September 2016, Dr. Paul McGraw, state veterinarian at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) issued a special order requiring that unspayed/ unneutered dogs obtained at an auction outside the state cannot be imported without a permit from DATCP and documented proof of a negative brucellosis test within 30 days before import. (Details here.)

 pawprint bullet point   Meet Max the Boxer   pawprint bullet point   Brucellosis Links   pawprint bullet point


 Tiny blue paw print bullet point   Meet Max the Boxer!

Max the boxer is a really happy guy, despite his background and health problems.        Meet Max the Boxer, who, with his heart of gold and spirit of a champion, was featured in Part Two of WTMJ's recent investigative report on puppy mills in Wisconsin. Such a happy guy -- see that blur in the right side of the photo? That's his tail, going a mile a minute. In fact, his whole body wagged with joy when anyone approached him. And just look at those soulful eyes. You can see yourself in those eyes

       However, those beautiful eyes also showed a condition called "Ventral Lid Bilateral Entropian," which means that his eyelids turned inward so that his lashes scratched his corneas. At least two dogs purchased at the same auction from "breeder" Ella Mae Brubaker suffered from this painful condition. It is correctible by very expensive surgery (an estimated $275 - $350 per eye) -- that the buyer would have to pay for. That is, unless the buyer were a commercial breeder who didn't care if the dog went blind, because "you don't need eyes to be a stud dog." (For more information on entropian eyelids, please see the Animal Eye Care website.)

       What you can't see is even more serious: this big, beautiful, happy-go-lucky guy also suffered from a disease called canine brucellosis, best described as a "canine STD." As a stud dog, he would pass it along to every female he mated with. Brucellosis is also passed along in other body fluids, including urine, saliva, feces, discharge and miscarried puppies in the females.

       Canine brucellosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning that PEOPLE can get this disease from an infected dog. There are also strains of brucellosis which can infect cattle, hogs, sheep, and several other species. Because of the potential for human infection and the rapidity of spread of the organisms, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers brucellosis a very serious disease which must be reported to the local health authority. In Wisconsin, that is the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Another view of Max the Boxer.       Though the International Veterinary Information Service states, "infections [of canine brucellosis, B. Canis] are uncommon and they are usually mild," the Wisconsin Division of Public Health is much more cautious:

       "Although reported cases of human B. canis infections are uncommon, the disease is thought to be severely underreported and unrecognized due to the fact that standard brucellosis [blood tests] in humans do not detect B. canis infection."

       Young children, seniors, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women are at greater risk; generally symptoms are flu-like but they can be much more serious.

        One effect of the disease in male dogs is sterility; in female dogs, it causes miscarriages. Animals who cannot "produce" are of no use to commercial breeders. They will be discarded or sold -- to another breeder or an unsuspecting family looking for a pet -- with the seller totally unaware that the dogs are sick.

       Since dogs infected with brucellosis may not have any visible symptoms, diagnosis requires laboratory blood testing. Reputable dog breeders routinely ensure that both parents are disease-free before mating. (For more on canine brucellosis, please see the links below.)

       In its recent investigative reports on puppy mills in Wisconsin, Milwaukee TV station TMJ-4 visited the kennel of Ella Mae Brubaker, who sold Max at the Thorp Auction.

       "So do you take precautions to make sure the dogs are healthy before you give them to people?" reporter John Mercure asked in his interview with Mrs. Brubaker.

        "No," she replied. "That's your responsibility to take them to the vet."

       When specifically asked about Max and brucellosis, she reiterated that it wasn't her responsiblibity -- "I sold those to Leon [Yoder, an auctioneer at the Thorp auction] and that was the end."

Max the Boxer was a Good Dog.       Well, no, actually, it wasn't the end. The Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project was adamant that State follow up with Ella Mae Brubaker, Edward Zimmerman, and other pet dealers among whom Max was traded or sold during his short life. We also reminded our legislators that this was just one of the many serious results of the lack of regulation on the "puppy mill business." We wanted them to understand that the brucellosis didn't start and end with Max, it came from the mills. We insisted that these mills test their dogs to protect the health of Wisconsin pets and their human families. This testing was incorporated into WI Act 90, which was passed in 2009 partially thanks to stories like Max's.

       What did this all mean for Max himself? Unfortunately, his "tail" did not have a happy ending. Though canine brucellosis is treatable -- spay or neuter, a long, expensive course of antibiotics, and periodic monitoring and retesting -- complete cures are rare. The bacteria "lurks" in the body and reinfect the dog without warning. Untreated -- such as in a repeat infection that isn't detected -- the disease eventually attacks joints and bone.

       The shelter veterinarian told investigators in that TMJ-4 report, "If I had a dog that was diagnosed with brucellosis, I most likely would euthanize it, simply because its lifestyle, its quality of life is going to be reduced, its length of life is going to be reduced, and there is the chance of spreading it."

       In a kennel situation, infected dogs of either gender are immediately euthanized. For a pet owner, there will be a tough decision. The Wisconsin Division of Public Health told us in a letter that they strongly recommended that males in particular -- Max -- should be euthanized.

       So, with great regret, Max was eased out of this life on May 7, 2007, at the age of 11 months, 359 days.


Note: A second boxer from ELLA MAE BRUBAKER, purchased at the 10 Mar 07 THORP DOG AUCTION, also tested positive for brucellosis.



 Tiny blue paw print bullet point    Brucellosis/Zoonotic Disease Links:

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 pawprint bullet point   Thorp Dog Auction Overview   pawprint bullet point   "It's All About the Money"   pawprint bullet point   Max the Boxer: What is Brucellosis?   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   The Dogs   pawprint bullet point   The Statistics   pawprint bullet point   Thorp Dog Auction Scrapbook   pawprint bullet point   Josie's Diary   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Rabies In WI: Why Health Certificates are so important   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   USDA/AWA Inspection Reports of Horst Stables Dog Auctions   pawprint bullet point

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Article Copyright © 2007, Michelle E. Crean. All Rights Reserved.
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