Scabies and ringworm
in a breeding kennel
by: Dr Sing Kong Yuen
Date: March 23, 2006
come now!" the breeder's shrill voice cracked through the
microphone of my handphone, not one time but several times.
She had persisted yesterday and I had told her I would be free only
after 4 - 5 p.m to go to the breeding farm today.
Daniel, a young national service man who wants to be a veterinarian
was in my car. He was on leave, getting ready to go to India for his
military exercise. "Dad, she is commanding you to go
straightaway to her kennel!" The one year of military
service made him aware of what are commands and control voices.
"The regulatory veterinarian at her kennel wants a practising
veterinarian to be present immediately and she had trouble getting
one within her means," I explained to the young man who fight demons
in the virtual world of online gaming till the early hours of the
day. Till he could not keep awake in school. Till anxious
teachers phoned his parents to complain that he was slacking.
Intelligence without academic excellence is such a waste of
opportunity when bright young men become addicted to online gaming.
Well, I would not nag him much. Back to my situation.
I had told this breeder I would not want to be her veterinarian.
I had asked her to find another veterinarian as I had no time to do
A veterinarian had quoted this breeder $1,500 for inspection of her
kennel dogs, $200 for a house-call and this excluded drugs and other
treatment. 7 days ago, she had been told to get a veterinarian to
treat her breeding stock but she had not done so. Now, the
regulatory vet wanted her to get her vet.
"Since you can't come now, I will get another vet." the regulator
said. He was present with his team at 2 p.m.
I said, "OK." With great relief. Since I could
not be available when needed, it was better for other vets to handle
this explosive case. A potential litigation animal cruelty case
requiring lots of time.
The breeder's landlord phoned me, "This is a business opportunity
for you to provide service and make money. You are not interested?"
This landlord always told me he was first a businessman.
His farm licence was at stake if his tenants flouted veterinary
regulations. I told him I was not available immediately as I
had consultations and treatment at my surgery at 3 p.m.
In deference to the regulatory veterinarian's need to get a
veterinarian immediately, the breeder's landlord said, "I pay the $200
required by another veterinarian to make a house-call now."
Unfortunately, the regulator's choice could not make it. So, the breeder
phoned me again. I was free after 5 p.m. The breeder had
been using self treatment for scabies and
ringworm as she did not or could not afford veterinary services.
Scabies and ringworm had now infected around 50% of her
"It must be my ex-employee making a complaint about me to the
regulator," she told me when I saw her after 5 p.m.
"No," I said. "You sold puppies with skin disease. The buyer would
complain to the regulators because he has to seek veterinary
treatment for the skin disease. And maybe pay over $100. After that,
the buyer complains." She would not believe me.
earned a reputation of selling skin-diseased puppies cheaply.
puppies meant lower income for her.
The regulators had inspected her kennels and wanted the dogs to be
treated immediately. She asked me to make a round of the kennels.
Then give a report to the regulators saying the dogs were all right.
The deafening roars of 130 dogs barking together reverberated into
my ear drums as I went one round of the kennels. I was used to
the strong smell of breeding dog kennels. But the barking was barely
"It is not so simple," I said to the breeder. "Every of your 130
dogs had to be taken out of the kennel and examined." This was why I
did not want to handle her case. It takes a very long time to
examine 130 dogs. There was a very good chance I would not be paid
The first thing to do was to make a list of how many dogs had skin
disease. This took three hours of the first visit as the
breeding stock were in various locations. The second
evening was taken up for treatment of the ringworm and scabies cases.
The breeder decided to treat 14
dogs. She agreed to have the 10 very poor conditioned and emaciated
dogs euthanased. It was past 6.50 p.m. She said she was tired
after bringing out the 14th dog for treatment.
But there were
around 40 dogs with scabies and ringworm. She said she was
treating them herself.
I did not force her to treat all the 40 dogs as I felt that this was
private enterprise. I was not the enforcer of veterinary
I submitted the report that 14 dogs treated to the regulator. That was
no good enough as far as animal welfare officer was concerned.
"There are around 40 dogs with skin disease!" he said.
I phoned the breeder.
"You better treat all dogs with health problems or you will lose your licence to
operate or go to the courts to be summoned for animal cruelty."
I gave the breeder this ultimatum, "This 3rd visit would be my last.
You would have to get another veterinarian. Most likely you would
have to close down your business since you do not take the
regulations on proper care for your dogs seriously."
There was a limit on my help. She panicked.
The Landlord was told to shut her down too. He phoned me to help the
breeder. The regulator told him to shut down her operations, but he
would not do immediately.
The regulator wanted me to be present at 3 p.m 7 days later for
another inspection. I was not available, I said.
"Give her 2 weeks," I advised.
This breeder must have time to get the dogs in better condition. The
drugs needed time to work. At least the dogs were now receiving
"You have a good skin wash?" the breeder asked me at the end of
treatment of over 40 dogs and puppies.
"There is no magic bullet." I said. "Keep the kennels and dogs dry,"
I advised. "Give them good food. Check them daily for skin disease
when you feed them. Get them treated professionally."
At my 3rd visit, the breeder changed her mind about the 10 dogs to
"$200 for euthanasia of 10 dams would be better spent treating them," she
decided. These 10 dogs were in very poor bodily
condition due to long-standing scabies and ringworm infections.
Practically bald due to continuous scratching day in and day out.
Dogs over 5 years old and in poor condition would be better
euthanased based on humane grounds. They had been suffering in pain
for over a year. Based on commercial reasons of not being
productive and on age, this could be another reason. Mass
euthanasia is not a pleasant thing to do. So, I was relieved that
she did not want this service.
Sentiments always play a big part in the life of breeders. The dogs
are children. Who wants to euthanase their offspring?
Or was it a
lack of a knowledge of the economics of breeding operations?
Would the enforcer insist on euthanasia of the 10 dogs? All will be
known in 14 days' time.
A Happy Ending