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Wisconsin Humane Society lending shelter for brucellosis response

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

For Immediate Release




Wisconsin Humane Society lending shelter for brucellosis response

Door County Campus to welcome nearly 30 dogs this week


Sturgeon Bay, Wis. –  The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) announced today that it is assisting area shelters by providing safe holding space at its Door County Campus for nearly 30 dogs, pending approval from state officials.

Last week it was shared that several Wisconsin shelters need to isolate shelter dogs as a precautionary measure after a transport of Korean dogs in which two dogs tested positive for brucellosis. WHS did not receive any dogs from the transport from Korea.

WHS began working with affected shelters last week and accepting animals at their various locations diverted because of animal intake restrictions. Now, WHS is making its Door County Campus shelter available as the safe holding facility for up to 30 “secondary” dogs affected by this situation.  

Because of the unique design of the Door County Campus shelter, WHS can separately and safely isolate animals while still maintaining intake and most adoption services in Door County. By transferring these “secondary” dogs to WHS, the affected shelters can return to providing normal services to their communities.

“It was clear to us that our Door County Campus, with its ample space, proper licensing, and fantastic staff, was the best facility available to quickly address the need to safely monitor and care for dozens of dogs from multiple shelters,” said Anne Reed, president and CEO of WHS. “We’re proud to be able to help our colleagues in this effort.”

There is no indication that any of the dogs to be housed in Door County have brucellosis.  None of the dogs to be housed in Door County come from Korea. Instead, they are dogs from U.S. locations who were in the affected shelters at the same time as dogs from the Korean transfer.  These dogs are at low risk because brucellosis is not easily transmitted in a shelter setting.  State officials have instructed that these dogs should be isolated out of an abundance of caution, pending complete test results from the Korean transfer.

Canine brucellosis is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium, Brucella canis (B. canis). Because brucellosis is primarily transmitted via birthing fluids/tissue and during breeding, it is most commonly a concern in poorly managed commercial breeding operations in the US.  The type of interaction that transmits B. canis is very rare in shelter settings.  Likewise, although humans can become infected with B. canis, the risk is very low. 

“Brucellosis does not spread easily, but because so many different shelters have been affected, the plan to address it has been logistically complicated,” said Sandra Newbury, director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “I’ve been floored by how well all these Wisconsin shelters have worked together to find safe solutions in the best interests of the animals and people they all serve.” 

The WHS Door County Campus will be welcoming “secondary” dogs from Humane Society of Sheboygan County and the Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) in Waukesha upon formal approval by state officials. The Washington County Humane Society is isolating dogs in another location near their shelter. The other affected organizations, Elmbrook Humane Society, Green Lake Area Animal Shelter, and Underdog Pet Rescue are isolating and holding dogs at their own facilities or in foster care. 

According to Lynn Olenik, executive director at HAWS, “With the number of dogs and other animals coming into our shelter this time of year, HAWS was pleased to receive this offer from WHS. This is a way HAWS can ensure business as usual during a busy spring season and is an excellent way to continue to meet the needs of our community.”

The WHS Door County Campus will be open for regular intake throughout this effort, including for stray and surrendered animals, as new animals will be entirely isolated from the “secondary” dogs.  The Door County Campus will be closed for adoptions for the next few days to help the new arrivals settle in.  During this brief transition, any dogs and cats available for adoption from Door County will be transferred to other WHS locations for placement.

The affected shelters are working with the UW Shelter Medicine Program and national partners to secure resources needed to support this effort. For those interested in helping, WHS is in high need of dog toys, soft dog treats, Weiss Walkie leashes and baby wipes. Donations can be dropped off at any WHS location.   

To learn more, please visit To learn more about Humane Society International’s transport program of dogs from Korea, please visit:

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The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) is the oldest and largest shelter in Wisconsin, serving 40,000 animals and their families every year. WHS is an independent nonprofit and receives no general government funding and is not part of any national umbrella group. The organization depends on donations from individuals, foundations, and businesses for all its lifesaving programs. WHS operates shelters in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Brown and Door Counties, as well as a spay/neuter clinic in West Allis.  The organization offers adoption services, youth programs, veterinary services, retail stores, wildlife rehabilitation, training classes and more. To learn more, visit

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2019
  • For immediate release
  • Media Contact: Angela Speed