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Owners seeking answers after "mystery toxin" kills dogs in Forest
A DEADLY toxin is feared to be killing dogs in the Forest after at least six pets died a week after cutting their paws or legs at a popular beauty spot.
Another two dogs have been saved, but a vet fears many more pets may have died and their owners and vets might not have made the connection between a cut and kidney failure.
Another dog has died after being walked at Moors Valley.
Louise Beal, who lost her dog last week after walking him at Latchmore Brook says she fears other pets, livestock and even children could also be affected by the mystery toxin.
The news came after a “terrible week” for Mrs Beal from North Gorley, who lost her springer spaniel Bruno a week after walking him at the spot near Ogdens car park, where the Forestry Commission is carrying out a controversial programme of works to alter the course of the water.
Bruno suffered a cut paw at Latchmore Brook on Saturday, February 23, which Mrs Beal treated with disinfectant the next day, and took him to vet Duncan Reavell of Linwood Veterinary Group at Verwood on Monday.
Despite antibiotics Bruno’s condition deteriorated sharply and Mr Reavell, from Frogham, who knew of several other cases of kidney failure in dogs after walks at Latchmore Brook recently, immediately sent Bruno to renal specialists Anderson Moores in Winchester, hooked up to a drip in the family car.
Sadly, all efforts failed to save him and he died last Saturday, a week after his walk.
Now Mr Reavell is compiling a database of cases to track down the cause of the “cluster” of fatalities, which may be a water or soil-borne toxin, which may have been disturbed after the heavy rains and the Commission’s work in the area.
Vets from Anderson Moores are sending out information to all their vets in the Forest.
Mrs Beal said: “The vet told me he thinks it’s an unidentified toxin that has worked its way up through disturbed soil.
“We just want to save other people having to go through this – it’s been the most awful week.
Bruno was like my baby. I just worry that the weather will warm up and there will be small children up there, in the water and playing and what if this affects humans too?”
Mr Reavell said: “This cluster of cases is not chronic kidney failure caused by old age, but acute kidney failure caused by something we haven’t been able to identify yet.”
Tracey and Jon Matherick took their six Siberian huskies to Moors Valley for a sleddog event on February 9.
When they returned to their home in Chard, Somerset, Boo, their eight-year-old bitch, had a tender paw, and was a little lame.
Mrs Matherick said: “We checked it, no signs of cuts or grazes, no skinned pads, but she possibly had a small puncture from a thorn. We cleaned it and kept an eye on it.
“Two days later the paw began to swell, followed by the entire leg.”
Vets tried to treat Boo with antibiotics and other medicines but after five days she began to shake, her eyes rolled and she started vomiting.
She was put on a drip, but after eight days her kidneys failed and vets could not tell why.
By day ten her organs had failed and the Mathericks had to have her put to sleep.
Mrs Matherick said: “Until the story went on the Forest Journal website we had no idea what had happened to Boo.
“We have been devastated, but our vets had no answers. Boo was a fit and healthy dog and it was awful to have 10 days like that, and still no answers.”
A Forestry Commission spokesman said: "We have been made aware of only one incident from an owner yesterday of a dog falling ill following a walk in the Ogdens area of the forest, having cut its paw.
"We have been in touch with the owner to ask for more information on the exact area walked so that we can investigate.
"We have not had reports of any other incidents from visitors or vets and would be grateful to hear if anyone else had suffered a similar experience or has any other useful information."
Anyone who is concerned or whose pet has suffered a similar reaction should contact Mr Reavell on 01202 882101.