Group stops bringing dogs from Puerto Rico after N.H. infection incident

  • FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2017 file photo, a boy accompanied by his dog watches the repairs of Guajataca Dam, which cracked during the passage of Hurricane Maria, in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. Experts said on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, that Puerto Rico could face nearly two decades of further economic stagnation and a steep drop in population as a result of Maria. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File) Ramon Espinosa

  • Aimee Goodwin administers the antibiotic doxycycline to the four rescue puppies and her own dog Playa (right) at her Norwich, Vt., home Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. The puppies were brought to Vermont from Puerto Rico by Goodwin’s organization Surfin’ Sato following Hurricane Maria and are being treated for leptospirosis. Two of the puppies from the original group were euthanized. James M. Patterson / Valley News

  • Aimee Goodwin steps over a barrier used to keep four rescue puppies from Puerto Rico and her own dog, Playa (left) contained after mopping up their urine with bleach at her home in Norwich, Vt., on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. The puppies are being treated for leptospirosis, a disease that is spread through contact with urine and can sometimes be transmitted to humans. James M. Patterson / Valley News

  • Aimee Goodwin snuggles with one of the rescue puppies she helped bring to Vermont from Puerto Rico at her home in Norwich, Vt., on Nov. 17. James M. Patterson / Valley News

Associated Press
Sunday, November 26, 2017

An animal welfare education group that brought in 10 puppies from Puerto Rico potentially infected with a bacterial disease has stopped importing any more dogs from the island for now as it consults with veterinarians and health officials to develop best practices for screening dogs.

Norwich, Vt.-based Surfin’ Sato imported the dogs from Puerto Rico on Nov. 9. Three days later, they were brought to a pizzeria in Hanover, N.H., where patrons interacted with them. Five puppies became sick and one tested positive for leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be transmitted from animals to humans and other pets, even though the dogs had been vaccinated.

Surfin’ Sato Executive Director Aimee Goodwin said the puppy that tested positive and another that showed similar symptoms were euthanized. But the others are thriving and most have been adopted.

“We are on the up and up,” she said Friday.

A group from Surfin’ Sato plans to return to Puerto Rico in January to help observe dogs’ conditions and assist in their care.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services had said all of the households that received puppies were contacted. It’s been collaborating with authorities in New Hampshire and Vermont to investigate additional exposure. Messages to the department weren’t immediately returned Friday afternoon.

The infection is rare in the United States. Mild symptoms can include fever, flu and gastrointestinal illness.