“Zoonosis” is when a disease is passed from an animal to a human. It’s a frightening thought, but those zoonotic diseases are fairly rare. Unfortunately, a small-dog puppy mill in Marion County, Iowa, seems to be the source of multiple cases of a canine disease that is spreading to humans. Officials from Iowa’s agriculture department have confirmed these reports.

The disease is known as canine brucellosis; it’s highly contagious among dogs and causes serious reproductive issues like infertility, stillbirths and spontaneous abortions.

The only reason that light was shed on this serious situation is that a pet rescue decided to free the abused animals from the puppy mill — and they had no idea what discovery they would make there.

Source: AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport / Facebook

The dog rescue that liberated the animals posted this warning on Facebook:

“Last Saturday, we purchased 32 dogs at an auction, from Iowa Puppies, a breeder in Knoxville that is going out of business. Another buyer had several of the dogs they purchased test positive for Canine Brucellosis. This is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can transfer to people. It is rare but it is possible. All of the dogs we purchased are being tested and currently quarantined at our facility with biosecurity measures in place to prevent any possible exposure to other dogs or people. We have not received any results yet. Therefore, we have closed our shelter building for the next 30 days. PLEASE NOTE that ANYONE who has purchased a puppy from Iowa Puppies in Knoxville (or from any commercial breeder) should have their dog tested for brucellosis. Additionally, there is no cure for this. This is just one more reason to ADOPT and not SHOP! Please pray for our sweet babies that were finally getting the chance to have a happy life.”

If a human becomes infected, they will experience flu-like symptoms: fever, sweats, joint pain, weakness and headaches.

Young children and those with weakened immune systems are at risk for complications. It also should be noted that the disease could even cause a healthy, adult woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely.

Source: AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport / Facebook

The severity of the contagious disease and the fact that it can be passed on to humans is why infected pups are typically euthanized.

“That’s why if we do have a positive dog, it has to be put down,” Amy Heinz, founder and executive director of Iowa-based AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport, said in an interview via The Washington Post. A woman “could find comfort in her little furry friend, and it could be her little furry friend that caused her miscarriage.”

The entire rescue is under 30-day quarantine after freeing the 32 dogs from the contaminated puppy mill, Iowa Puppies. Hopefully, none of the dogs that were rescued from the mill will be infected, but because of this, the stray population in the area will suffer. No dogs will be allowed in or out of the shelter until the quarantine is over.

Source: AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport / Facebook


Canine brucellosis is a chronic disease without a cure, according to Edward Dubovi, a professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Apparently, even infected dogs can appear healthy after antibiotic treatments — that means even sick animals can test negative for the disease.

Source: AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport / Facebook

The 32 dogs that were rescued initially tested negative, but it’s suspected that the breeder gave the animals antibiotics so that they would appear healthy to potential buyers. Other people that have bought puppies from the facility have officially reported that several of their dogs tested positive for canine brucellosis.

It seems the puppy mill has shut down and completely removed their online presences.

Because this incurable disease is both contagious and can be passed to humans, it’s vital that you keep an eye on your furry friends. If they exhibit the following symptoms, make sure to take them to the vet for a test:

  • Lethargy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty walking
  • Back pain
  • Weak, sickly newborn puppies
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Swollen testicles
  • Inflammation of the skin around the scrotum

Be safe, diligent — and make sure to spread this news to your loved ones!