Dog deaths in Cincinnati: Pet Spot reopens dog day care Monday morning

Tests on what killed three dogs not complete

NORWOOD, Ohio - The dog kennel connected to three dog deaths this month isn’t waiting for final test results on what killed them and reopened normal day care operations Monday.

Jeff Voelpel, owner of The Pet Spot in Norwood, shut down the day care Aug. 16 and acknowledged that three dogs that had been at his facility had died from a violent, undetermined illness.

Voelpel continued to operate boarding and grooming while Ohio State University veterinarians conducted diagnostic tests.

In a Facebook post Friday, Voelpel says he hasn't received final test results but he expressed confidence that the testing and sanitizing he has done at his facility make it safe for dogs to return.

The dead dogs had common symptoms – bloody diarrhea and severe vomiting.

"The typical causes of such issues have been tested for by veterinarians multiple times and the results have come back negative," Voelpel said.

Voelpel said two of the dead dogs boarded at The Pet Spot two weeks before showing symptoms and had attended day care. He said the other dead dog was an “employee dog” that did not board or go to day care and had not been at The Pet Spot for more than two weeks when its symptoms appeared at the employee’s house.

Because dog kennels and day cares are not professionally licensed or inspected in Ohio (or Kentucky), no government agency examined The Pet Spot after the deaths.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is waiting for the Ohio State test results before it determines if it has the authority and the need to act, according to Dr. Tony Forshey, chief of the Division of Animal Health.

 “It would take something infectious or contagious before we make a move,”  Forshey told WCPO Digital on Wednesday.

In a worst-case scenario, the Ohio Revised Code gives the Department of Agriculture the authority to order a quarantine if the cause of death is a “dangerously contagious or infectious and reportable disease,” as listed in the ORC.

Then the ODA would supervise “the eradication of the disease on that site,” Forshey said. “But you can’t think about eradicating a disease until you identify it.”

There are no regulations requiring a doggie day care like The Pet Spot to even report a dog’s death unless it falls in that category. Then the ORC requires it to notify the DOA or a veterinarian.

WCPO Digital asked Forshey on Wednesday if he thought Pet Spot should have closed down immediately and completely.

“It’s not for me to make that decision or call or have an opinion on,” Forshey said.

More than 100 people liked Voelpel's announcement on Facebook.

Here is Voelpel’s entire announcement:

Dear Valued Customers,

The Pet Spot (TPS) will resume normal daycare operations this Monday August 26. We are very excited to see our pets again and to have the opportunity to get back to what it is we do, loving and caring for your pets.

We would like to share with you what we have learned up to this point.

FROM FACILITY TESTING: While we don’t have definitive answers on what caused the illness, thorough testing of our facility indicates it is safe to reopen our daycare. Over 100 test swabs were performed on the daycare, boarding, grooming and outside areas. All came back negative (clean). Tests were performed on water supply and returned negative (clean). The food supply was tested and showed no levels to be of any concern. As a precaution we did replace all food service scoops and containers. In addition to independent testing, we have completely sanitized our entire facility numerous times with multiple sanitizers to ensure cleanliness. We have also used the time created by our temporary closure to strip and resurface all floors in our indoor temperature controlled daycare facility. We took these additional steps to ensure that we have done everything possible to ensure to the best of our ability a clean and safe environment.

FROM VETERINARIAN TREATMENT & TESTING: The typical causes of such issues have been tested for by veterinarians multiple times and the results have come back negative (clean). We are awaiting final results on a small portion of the tests that have been performed by the direction of Ohio State University and hope to have those soon. Once we receive those results we will share them by email to our customers and on Facebook.

The veterinarians have expressed they believe four dogs had the same type illness symptoms. Three of those dogs sadly passed away. Of the four dogs, one was in the care of TPS with symptoms and taken to the vet by TPS staff. The veterinarian took quick action and that dog has thankfully recovered. One of the four dogs was an employee dog that did not board or go to daycare and had not been in our facility for over two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms. The symptoms occurred at the employees house. The remaining two dogs boarded two weeks prior to showing symptoms but had attended daycare and were brought to the vet by their owners with symptoms.

If any customers or other pet resorts would like a copy of our facility testing results or veterinarian technical data results please email TPS at Jeff@ThePetSpot.com.

We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the hundreds of emails, phone calls, Facebook posts, and personal visits to wish us well and a quick return. Through this entire ordeal, one thing became more apparent every day, The Pet Spot has an absolutely amazing and special customer base with whom we have developed a close relationship with. We are deeply touched and will be forever grateful for your unbelievable support.

We can’t wait to see you next week!

Best Regards,

Jeff Voelpel

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