CONCORD, N.H. — 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 veterinaries and health officials to develop best practices for screening dogs.
Norwich, Vermont-based Surfin’ Sato imported the dogs from Puerto Rico on Nov. 9. Three days later, they were brought to a pizzeria in Hanover, New Hampshire, 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.