Dog deaths in Cincinnati: Tests don't tell what killed three linked to The Pet Spot

P&G inspection gives kennel clean bill of health

NORWOOD, Ohio - The owner of a Norwood dog kennel says diagnostic tests came back negative and did not determine what killed three dogs that had been at the facility in recent weeks. 

Jeff Voelpel, owner of The Pet Spot, says separate tests gave his business a clean bill of health, and that's why he reopened his day-care operation Monday.

But the final word on the cause of the deaths is still out.

Voelpel showed 9 On Your Side a letter from MedVet, which treated the dogs and others that became ill with similar symptoms – bloody diarrhea and violent vomiting. Those signs are normally associated with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) .

MedVet Medical Director Amy Snyder wrote:

“With your support, we have been able to screen these patients for all the common and some less common causes of these signs. To date, all the submitted tests results have been negative and there is no definite cause.”

See the MedVet letter below or at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/780079-the-pet-spot-medvet-letter-declares-test-results.html

While MedVet ruled out 14 possible causes, Voelpel said one diagnostic test for circovirus - usually associated with pigs - still needs to be completed, but he said veterinarians don’t suspect it as the cause.

"Canine circovirus is newly discovered,"  Erica Hawkins, communications director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, told 9 On Your Side from Columbus. "There has been a circovirus affecting pigs, and research shows that the canine variation may be closely related, but neither is on our reportable disease list.

 "If positive, it would be the first confirmation in the state," Hawkins said. "That said, there is not much information about the virus and how it spreads."

There hasn't been any word yet from Ohio State University veterinarians who performed a necropsy on one of the dead dogs. Those results may take a few weeks or a few months, according to communications director Melissa Weber.

Voelpel also showed 9 On Your Side a letter from Jason Taylor of P&G Pet Care, which declared that testing on the building had shown no cause for concern.

See the P&G letter and test results at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/780100-the-pet-spot-letter-from-p-amp-g.html

Taylor wrote that “a team of P&G microbiologists and veterinarians” went to The Pet Spot on Aug. 16 to “conduct a microbiological investigation of the environment.” The team was looking for “gastrointestinal pathogenic bacteria” that might have caused the illness, and also took measurements to test “the overall status of the facility.”

It collected swabs and sent them to Q Laboratories in South Fairmount, Taylor wrote.

“Based on these findings, there is no evidence of contamination by potential gastrointestinal pathogenic bacteria with the exception of limited detections of coliforms in (measuring) cup 6,” Taylor wrote.

Both MedVet and P&G have business ties to The Pet Spot. Voelpel said The Pet Spot doesn't have a veterinarian on site and sends sick dogs to MedVet. The Pet Spot feeds dogs a P&G product, Iams, unless dog owners provide their own food.

Voelpel closed his day care on Aug. 16 while testing was conducted. Boarding and grooming continued uninterrupted.

Voelpel reopened the day care on Aug. 25 after getting the test results.

"The responsible way of handling this entire issue was to close down and take those precautions until we have test results back from doctors that tell us we're able to safely do this," Voelpel told 9 On Your Side on Wednesday.

"We closed down for 13 days, not being told by any organization that we had to or anyone that we should, but we self imposed this obviously at the detriment of our business, for the safety of our pets."

The deaths and the shutdown hurt business, Voelpel acknowledged.

"We'd be almost sold out if not sold out right now, but customers understandably wanted to wait until the facts came out," he said.

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

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

Although circovirus is not on the list now, the ORC says the director of agriculture may add it or any disease by executive order.

"At this time, it is too soon to tell what scope of response would be necessary," Hawkins said. "We would be monitoring the situation very closely while continuing to provide guidance to veterinarians and pet owners on caring for their dogs."

 
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