Anyone who's been camping with their dog knows our furry friends love nothing more than running around, getting dirty, and, often times, eating grass and lapping up wild water. But those good times took a heartbreaking turn for one dog trainer near Salt Lake City, after six of the dogs he was with died after munching on muddy grass on a pond bank.
The unnamed dog trainer was camping with a group of 13 dogs on May 17 at Lee Kay Wildlife Conservation Training area, a popular outdoor training facility for dogs.
He noticed the pups eating a crusty substance on a pond bank. He acted immediately, calling them off the substance and putting them in their kennels. But later that day, some of those dogs started to get sick.
Within a few days, six of those dogs had died. Utah Division of Water Quality crews went out to the pond and took water samples, where they noticed a bacterial growth on the edge of the water that can be deadly to dogs, as Division of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley told KSL.
"They did say there was some growth likely that they think was partially composed of cyanobacteria on the grass growing along the edge of the water," Jolley said. "And they have seen cases where dogs have become ill or died from consuming these kinds of cyanobacteria mats. And the mats sometimes contain these lethal levels of toxins that target the liver or neurological system of dogs."
Other Close Calls At Lee Kay Wildlife
The Lee Kay Wildlife Conservation Training area is currently closed while the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources investigates. But before the deaths of these six dogs, there were other close calls in the same location. Grady Southwick visited the Lee Kay Wildlife Conservation Training with family and dogs May 1. His dog, Piper, spent time in the water, but this didn't alarm Southwick. That was something they frequently did. But later that afternoon, Piper started to show signs of illness.
Six dogs have died after a recent visit to a popular training facility near Salt Lake City, Utah.
"About 4 o'clock, she started groaning, moaning... you could tell something was wrong," Southwick told KSL News. "She wouldn't stand still. She wouldn't lay down ... she wouldn't eat. She went outside and threw up a few times."
Piper got so sick over the next few days Southwick said he thought she was going to die. Luckily, she pulled through. Later, Southwick learned about the other dogs that did die after visiting Lee Kay.
It took about a week and a half for Piper to recover from being sick, but Southwick is counting his blessings that she survived.
"We love her," he said. "She's a great little dog and she's part of our family."
Other Potential Dangers for Your Dog Outdoors
There are a few things pet owners should be mindful of when taking their furry friends outdoors. Certain plants, such as azaleas, tulips, lilies, daffodils, tomato plants (stalks), and hydrangea can harm a dog if ingested. Another danger is blue-green algae, which is toxic and can be deadly when consumed in high concentrations. It is often found in non-flowing freshwater during hot seasons.
If a dog starts to act sick or there is any suspicion that it may have consumed a poisonous plant or come into contact with a poisonous substance, contact a veterinarian immediately.