KILLER dog disease Alabama Rot may have broken out at a popular walking venue in Moredon after Martin Amor had his nine-month-old Jack Russell treated for recognised symptoms last week.
Thirteen dogs have died since December across the UK due to the disease, which affects animals’ liver and kidneys, and now it may have surfaced in the fields adjacent to Akers Way, west of Nova Hreod College.
Martin, 29, a thatcher who lives in Lulworth Road, was walking his dog Colin with his children on March 7, when he noticed a purple substance shimmering in the mud.
It was only when they returned home they began to notice Colin behaving strangely, gnawing at his paws and struggling to stand, with his front legs giving way.
“We came back from the walk and he was fine.
“We nipped out and came back 20 minutes later to find him rolling around on the floor, as if his legs were giving out,” he said.
“Thameswood Vets said he had definitely been poisoned in some way and they couldn’t rule out Alabama Rot.
“His paws were red and looked burnt. He was chewing at them and panting really hard.
“By the time we had got him to the vet he was covered in mud because his legs kept giving out and falling over.
“The kids were distressed. The vets did say he might not survive.”
In the past week Colin has stabilised and he is back at home with his owners, although the vets are continuing to monitor him.
Tests showed his kidney and liver function had deteriorated and his white blood cell count had risen.
Alabama Rot, or cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), was first identified in the US in the 1980s. Symptoms can include lesions or wounds on legs, paws and faces.
Over the following two to seven days, dogs develop clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.
Martin has spoken with Thames Water and the Environment Agency about the field. The former conducted tests on its waterways last Saturday and found no traces of contamination.
The Environment Agency is investigating and has instructed Martin and his partner Kimberly Rendell, 29, to put up posters warning dog walkers.
Kimberly said: “I laminated them all at a great cost, but on the same day I put them up I saw six dog walkers out there.”
Giovanna Hartley, of Thameswood Vets, said: "It is definitely not Alabama Rot. We were worried that Colin's feet had been in something that was irritating him. We were more worried about the fact he was licking it and that is why we had to do blood tests.
"We are worried that theire is something that is harmful on the regular dog walks. We are urging dog walkers to be aware of anything unusual on the local dog walking areas. If they see any irritation in their dogs and it isn't nettles, please contact your local vets."
Dog walkers are advised to steer clear of the area next to Akers Way until the Environment Agency can ascertain the cause of Colin’s illness.