The Wisconsin Humane Society and other shelters statewide are voicing opposition to newly proposed Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) regulations that they believe will have a devastating effect on homeless dogs and Wisconsin families.
The regulations would require negative brucellosis (Brucella canis) and heartworm tests before homeless dogs can be transported into Wisconsin.
Canine brucellosis is a bacterial infection that does not affect lifespan or long-term quality of life, but it causes an infection of the reproductive system (for example, sexually transmitted disease). It is rare in shelters, the transmission risk is low, and it is not a fatal disease such as rabies, according to the Wisconsin Humane Society.
“The testing requirement may sound reasonable on the surface,” said Anne Reed, President and CEO of WHS, “but it could eliminate our state’s ability to save puppies and dogs from overcrowded shelters or natural disaster zones outside state lines.”
Because Brucella canis testing has a high false-positive rate and requires additional time and money, source shelters with already-limited funding would likely have to euthanize dogs or transfer them to other states rather than test, WHS said in a news release.
Last year, Wisconsin families adopted nearly 2,900 dogs transferred to WHS from other states.
Here is a statement from a DATCP spokesperson:
"The proposed rule about testing dogs prior to bringing them to Wisconsin is to protect animal health in our state. It is also to protect consumers from purchasing potentially infected animals that may not be showing signs of disease. This reduces the risk of spreading disease in our state and some of these diseases, like canine brucellosis, are also a disease that puts people at risk because they can get it from animals. An example of how this rule could prevent the spread of disease is the canine brucellosis disease investigation that occurred this past spring (notice to stakeholders: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIDATCP/bulletins/23c3a83 ). Had those dogs been tested prior to being imported into Wisconsin it would have prevented the disease from spreading across multiple shelters across the state and to individuals who adopted those dogs."