Davis Farmers Market visitors can most likely recall walking by a kennel where big dogs and small puppies alike are frolicking around, oftentimes clad in sweaters and accompanied by ecstatic children whose hopeful, pleading faces beg their parents to adopt.
As of Apr. 20, this idyllic scene of child meeting man’s best friend will no longer continue to be a highlight of the market.
The Davis Farmers Market board made this decision due to a case of giardia found in one of the dogs at the DogSpot Adoption Center. After responding to a complaint, the Yolo County Health Department proceeded to investigate at DogSpot, finding that several of the canines were indeed infected, a few of which may have been taken to the Davis Farmers Market and put on display.
Giardia, an intestinal disease also carried by deer, birds, cows, and beavers, includes a range of various symptoms, a few being diarrhea, malaise, excessive gas, steatorrhea, epigastric pain, bloating, diminished interest in food, vomiting and weight loss.
In response to discovering giardia in the pups, health department officials put up papers warning the customers that some of the farmers market dogs may have carried this illness.
“These people would pet the animals, think about adopting them, and sometimes would, which worried the health department, as there was the chance that some of the sick dogs at the kennel could have made their way to the farmers market,” said Bruce Sarazin, Yolo County Health Department Environmental Health Director.
Davis Farmers Market organizers decided to ban all pet adoption groups based on the fact that the market does not carry liability insurance against potential health problems the dogs may have inflicted on guests.
“All we did was shed light on this potential disease. The rest was in the Farmers Market’s hands. We did, however, recommend that the market put signs up to warn people,” Sarazin said.
Members of the Yolo County SPCA will still run their table at the farmers market despite not being able to bring potential adoptees.
“Although it’s unfortunate, we’ll continue with our publicity, and people can still pick up information about the SPCA and learn more about adopting without actually seeing the dogs,” said Kim Kinnee, executive director of Yolo County SPCA.
Fortunately, the Davis Farmers Market is only one of many spots at which the SPCA displays their dogs. “We have many venues, so when opportunities arise, we will bring adoptable dogs to them…we usually do it on a weekly basis,” Kinnee said.
Other dog centers are affected as well.
“Although saddened by the loss of the Farmers Market as a venue for showing our wonderful shelter rescues, we respect their decision,” said Kate Montgomery, kennel director of DogSpot, in an e-mail. “It was a careful deliberation designed to address the needs and consideration of all who go to the market, both vendor and patron.“
DogSpot was the adoption agency that sparked the initial review of market policy. Montgomery said the threat from giardia was overstated.
“I believe that most people realize that the threat of human giardia from this type of source was next to none, and the motive by Yolo County to publicize the possibility was suspect,” Montgomery said.
“But for the integrity of the market, there was no other choice to be made.“
Indeed, it was necessary for the market to look out for their business prospects, said Randii MacNear, market manager of the Davis Farmers Market. Because the main goal of the market is to sell food, market organizers are just trying to do their job and wouldn’t want a potential liability to be what stops them from doing it, she said.
“Our biggest hope is that people will understand the complexities of operating an event twice during the week in Central Park … an event that sees 10,000 people coming through,” MacNear said. “There are lots of behind-the-scenes components that we have to comply with and we hope people can just understand that our main commitment is selling fruits and vegetables.“
On a final note, Kate expressed her hopes for the future of dog adoption centers.
ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.