Adoption Heartbreak: Dog owner shares what she wished she knew before adopting

Adoption Heartbreak: Dog owner shares what she wished she knew before adopting

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- After someone reached out to CBS 58, we found multiple stories of dogs being adopted from shelters and breeders, the owners finding out weeks or even days later that the dogs had serious or even terminal illnesses.

It begs the question, what do they have to tell you before adopting?

Lyssa May-Jung adopted a 5-year-old pit bull mix in February.

"He had some pretty severe symptoms once I brought him home," said May-Jung.

We met her dog Yondu on his last day. Dying from kidney failure, the vet had him put down right after the interview.

"I struggle with how someone who had been taking care of him didn't notice because it was really obvious to me," said May-Jung.

Yondu was adopted from MADACC in Milwaukee. They tell us the dog was only with them 12 days, and they wouldn't have noticed symptoms of kidney failure in a shelter environment.

The Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission did nothing wrong according to Wisconsin laws. Because they're a government agency they don't even have to give an exam before adopting out. Even though it's not required, dogs do get a medical exam. Yondu was seen by a vet, given vaccinations,  and neutered.

Most dogs sold or adopted in the state of Wisconsin do require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, but a CVI is only required to include things like age, breed, and vaccinations. A vet is also required to see if a dog has any infectious diseases, but the exam would catch virtually no terminal illnesses.

Because not all dog sellers are licensed and there are no laws dictating cat sales, it's important to know what kind of medical care to ask for before you adopt.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has lists of the licensed sellers in the state and what you need to know.

Yondu's vet says one blood test would have shown his kidney failure. His levels after a blood test in June were very high and indicated that he'd likely been sick for a long time.

Lyssa says a blood test before adoption may have saved her $7,000 dollars in vet bills.

"That should be in their paperwork, you should know what you're getting, and be prepared for it," said May-Jung.

So, should the laws do more to protect owners and make sure they know the health of pets joining their family?

"It should be looked at because no one should have to go through that heartache," said Rep. Christine Sinicki, (D) 20th Assembly District.

Rep. Sinicki is a dog owner and knows this problem all too well. Something similar happened to her son. After adopting a dog from the humane society, she showed signs of Parvo and spent thousands of dollars on care and tests.

"It would be difficult to mandate that all these tests be done, but I think there are things we might be able to do to patch these holes," said Rep. Sinicki.

While a blood test would have given answers for Yondu's case, a blood draw is not a catch-all. Multiple tests would be needed to screen dogs for different terminal illnesses.

Rep. Sinicki used to own a pet store and says the policy the store used could work as a state law.

"You had two weeks to take the animal to our veterinarian and have a full physical, and if something was found we would take full responsibility. So, we could look at doing something like that in legislation," said Sinicki.

In June, the veterinarian gave Yondu six months to live. Lyssa was able to spend just over 8 months with him and knows she would have taken him home from MADACC no matter what.

"I still would have wanted him, still would have picked him up, but would have known what I was getting into."

She also would have known to say goodbye.

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