Police dogs in Winnipeg have fallen ill, a situation a professional trainer says was likely to happen because of the animals' living conditions.

The dogs, used to track suspects or sniff out contraband, have been living for more than a year in kennels set up on a parking lot behind a district police station in Winnipeg's east end.

Carolyn Cieslar, a Winnipeg-based dog training, told CBC News the dogs should not be grouped together.

"There's going to be different dogs going in and out which is where the disease spreads right there," Cieslar explained. "One dog goes in the pen, makes a little mess and it's not cleaned up properly."

Cieslar's warnings were made about a year ago and, since then, CBC News has learned one dog that fell ill spread the sickness to 15 other animals.

The illness was so bad the dogs were unable to use their sense of smell.

Mike Sutherland, the president of Winnipeg's police union, told CBC News the problem was directly related to the dogs' living conditions.

"Because there are no isolation kennels [the virus] rapidly spread to the other service dogs," Sutherland said. "The virus debilitated their ability to scent and so we had a canine unit that was basically out of service."

Sutherland said the situation is not ideal.

"Frankly, it's an embarrassment," he said.

Police officials said in 2010 that the kenneling situation was temporary.

Since then, CBC News was told the police department has not secured the land needed for a new space.