New Brunswick

SPCA investigates Bathurst breeder after complaints of puppy deaths

​Pet owners from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia say the puppies they purchased from a woman in Bathurst had severe health problems, including parvovirus.

Owners in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia complain of ailing puppies soon after bringing them home

Prince died seven days after Brittany Cramm bought him from a Bathurst woman and took him home to Quispamsis. (Submitted)

​Pet owners from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia say the puppies they purchased from a woman in Bathurst had severe health problems, including parvovirus, a highly contagious viral infection that can be fatal.

Seven people — from Bathurst, Moncton, Saint John and Nova Scotia — said they bought puppies from a breeder named Lisa Chiasson. Within days of being brought home, five of the dogs died from parvovirus, and two others got sick.

The New Brunswick SPCA said it is investigating the complaints about Lisa Chiasson, who also goes by the name of Tanya White, and the Bathurst kennel, which has come to the agency's attention in the past.

Young dogs are especially at risk of parvovirus, which attacks the intestines or the heart muscle, depending on the form it takes, according to PetMD. 

CBC News has been unable to reach Chiasson for comment at the number she provided to people who bought the puppies, despite repeated attempts since late last week.

'All I could do was cry'

Brittany Cramm of Quispamsis said she took her puppy, Prince, to the vet one morning, sure he was close to death.

"I knew he wasn't going to make it," said Cram, 19. "He just couldn't even hold his head up. He was trying with all his might, and he couldn't. All I could do was cry."

She said she purchased the puppy two weeks ago from a woman who called herself Tanya White.

The seven pet owners interviewed by CBC News said they had spoken to the New Brunswick SPCA about their concerns.

Sarah Beaton of Moncton says her dog, Jetta, is in good health but her anxiety rose after she learned of the deaths of other puppies bought from a Bathurst breeder. (CBC)
Carl MacAulay, the New Brunswick SPCA's chief animal protection officer, said the agency received complaints about the same breeder a year and a half ago.

There was an investigation, but when the SPCA learned the breeder was licensed, the investigation was dropped.

The recent complaints led the agency to reopen the investigation, he said. 

The mix-breed puppies, often part Labrador and Rottweiler, have been selling for $150 to $175.

Cramm said she could tell something was wrong the moment she met the puppy seller in the Champlain Mall parking lot in Dieppe on Nov. 5.

Could feel his bones

"When I got the puppy, I could tell it wasn't looked after or cared for," she said. "The odour that came from him lingered through the whole car, and my whole family was like, gagging. He was so skinny I felt so bad. I could feel all his ribs and hip bones."

Although Cramm's puppy died seven days later, a Moncton woman said the dog she purchased from the Bathurst breeder fared better after being diagnosed with parvovirus and treated.

Sarah Beaton, who picked up her puppy Jetta, in the same Dieppe parking lot, said the dog is fine now but news that another puppy died worries her.

"My anxiety was sky high, wondering, is my dog next? Because when you get a puppy right away automatically you are going to fall in love with them, right? So for me it was, 'Oh, my gosh, there is another one.'"

'No life in her'

Beaton said she took her puppy to the vet the day after bringing her home because she had been worried about the puppy's fragile condition.

"When we first brought her home she seemed to have no life to her," she said. "It was really sad. She wasn't acting like a normal puppy. At first I thought it was the environment, but the second day I felt it in my heart that something was off."

Cramm said she posted the news about her dog's death on Facebook and received about 200 messages from people telling her they had a similar experience.

People from Bathurst contacted her to pass along the seller's name and tell her the woman runs the family dog business with her husband and daughter, Cramm said.

A 'tough' lesson

Another Moncton woman, Pat Jordan, whose dog came from the same litter and also died from parvovirus this month, said the experience was eye-opening.

"It's been a very hard learning experience," she said.

"A very tough lesson to learn to not buy puppies from backyard breeders. To make sure to see where they are living. I think that's a big thing."