Officials say the trouble began when two swine flu sufferers approached the ministry's leader, Ayatollah Mugsy, asking for a cure. The ayatollah is purported to have mystical healing powers, which are transferred through his saliva to a patient's belly button.
As the ayatollah approached the swine flu patients, he was tethered by a leash to his apparent human master, a man dressed in a hazmat suit with a surgical-grade respirator. But before the ayatollah could perform the laying-on-of-tongues ritual, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Protection swooped in and quarantined the site.
"We now have thousands of people who have been exposed to the swine flu," said one federal health official, on the condition of anonymity. "This is disastrous."
The World Health Organization was less subtle in its response to the incident, issuing a statement that read: "The time to panic is upon us."
Officials with Pug Life Ministries declined to comment. But the Islamic Elvii, a radical Memphis offshoot of the ministry that combines the ayatollah's brand of canine Islam with rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuits, issued a statement downplaying any talk of a worsening pandemic.
"That's all right, mama," said one Elvii official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.