A woman had to put down her beloved four dogs because they were exposed to an extremely rare disease in a rescue.
Wendy Hayes, 61, decided to take Moosha, believed to be a German Shepherd crossbreed, from a rescue company that helps stray animals Ukraine and Belarus, but later contracted the disease himself.
A pregnant Moosha arrived at Wendy’s home in Stoke-on-Trent on March 20 and had started aborting her puppies within three days.
It appears the animal had Brucella canis — a bacterial disease that often causes mass abortions in dogs — and maybe even rabies.
Wendy said, “It was pretty awful. [Moosha] literally walked around the house dropping her puppies, there was blood all over the house.”
The grandmother tried to save the puppies and eventually came into contact with Moosha’s blood and birth fluid.
This is how Wendy believes she was the first person in the UK to contract the disease.
Wendy’s local trading standards office suspected Moosha might have rabies, so they sent Wendy a 21-day “stay at home” notice.
It was only after Moosha was allowed to leave the house on May 13 that Wendy noticed that she was not feeling well.
She had fever, chills, shivering, severe shivering, severe headache, severe back pain, and low blood pressure.
Wendy went to see her GP and was eventually taken to the infectious diseases ward at Stoke Hospital, where doctors realized she had Brucella canis.
Wendy was already immunocompromised and had to be kept in the hospital for more than two weeks.
Even after she was discharged, nurses had to come and administer five lots of antibiotics for two and a half weeks.
Tragically, it turned out that Wendy’s 13-year-old Jack Russel Benson, her 11-year-old Patterdale Cross Douggie and her nine-year-old dog Max had all contracted the disease as well.
Tiny, a four-year-old pug, didn’t test positive, but she had been in contact and was considered high risk.
All four had to be killed.
Wendy said, “I went into shock, I was sobbing. There was no real choice, no real quality of life for them.
“It’s heartbreaking to have one dog put to sleep, let alone do it three times. How do you get over that?
“The impact is devastating. Life went out of the house, it didn’t feel like home. There was a sense of guilt because it was my choice to bring her into the house. It didn’t feel like a home.’
Wendy is angry with the rescue company and the government for “letting it happen and not testing.”
It is not a legal requirement that dogs be screened for Brucella canis before coming to the UK.
Public Health England stressed last year that dog importers should be able to voluntarily screen dogs from countries where the disease is endemic.
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