Guardsman denies 30 dogs had COVID-19Saturday, July 17, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Guardsman Group Ltd has shut down rumours that 30 of its guard dogs were recently quarantined with COVID-19. The company says the dogs, contrary to persistent rumours to the contrary, had kennel cough — which is not transmissible to humans. It also said they have recovered and are back on the job.
Meanwhile, a cautious St James Public Health Department, which launched a probe into the reports, has sent documentation provided by Guardsman to the health ministry “for further investigations”.
“We have 30 dogs in the kennels at our Montego Bay [location]. About two weeks ago they started exhibiting signs of kennel cough, a canine disease. It is not transmitted to humans, and it is not COVID,” Guardsman Group Limited veterinary nurse and group canine manager, Diana Trawford told the Jamaica Observer when contacted.
The guard dogs were taken off duty and placed under quarantine for two weeks as they recovered, she said.
“The reason why we didn't send the dogs to work was because they were coughing and were visibly sick. [Kennel cough] is not transmittable from dogs to humans [so] our handlers were not [affected],” said the veterinary nurse. “We have a consultant veterinary surgeon, and he was in Montego Bay for the first week and all the dogs were treated using antibiotics, cough syrup and, if necessary, steroids. All 30 dogs have now been cleared and are [no longer] exhibiting... symptoms,” she said.
She stressed that Guardsman Group Limited, which owns some 220 guard dogs across the island, provides their canines with “the best veterinary care... possible”. Based on her expertise as a veterinary nurse, she theorised that the dogs could have contracted kennel cough “from stray dogs” while on the job.
“I would like the public to know that we take extremely good care of our dogs. They are fully vaccinated, dewormed, [have been given] heartworm treatment and everything, so we are very careful. We keep our dogs in excellent shape,” Trawford stated.
The rumours that the dogs had COVID-19, which had even caught the attention of the St James Municipal Corporation, had been of concern to the parish's health department. St James' Deputy Chief Public Health Inspector Sherika Lewis began a probe but was reassured that while the dogs were quarantined with a respiratory illness, it was not COVID-19.
“[The company's veterinary nurse] has sent medical reports from the veterinary surgeon who is aligned to Guardsman Group so we have that documentation in hand,” said Lewis. “We will be forwarding the information to our Veterinary Public Health Division in the Ministry of Health and Wellness at the regional office for further investigation. [Currently], we are still in the process of conducting our investigations.”