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State Officials Watching Dog Death Cases

Officials at the State Department of Agriculture are waiting on test results to see if a disease called HGE is responsible for the violent deaths of three local dogs. They're also worried there could be other cases they don't know about.

According to owners and state officials, the dead dogs may have something in common. Local 12's Rich Jaffe has the story.

Hemorrhagic gastro-enteritis or HGE is a brutal disease. Its onset is very fast, and if dogs aren't treated immediately they're likely to die a horrific death, basically bleeding out from the inside.The disease is extremely hard to identify and even harder to isolate. Basically experts have to eliminate everything else, and what's left is HGE.

The concern is there could be a lot of cases out there not being reported. We have to warn you this is a disturbing story.

Last week Russell Gibson took his two dogs...Buster and this one, Max to stay at Pet Spot in Norwood while he went on vacation. Via web cam he was able to check in on them. When he picked them up, he noticed Max wasn't acting right.

Gibson says... "So I took him home and started noticing little spots on the hardwood floors of blood and I was examining him to make sure he didn't have any cuts or anything and when I got out of the shower there was just this huge pool of blood."

Gibson took his dog to the MedVet emergency clinic on Redbank road, where they immediately started the treating the dog. Soon, unfortunately he had company.

He says "they examined him and while I was there. Another woman had come in with a Chocolate Lab and I could just see the towel she had her dog wrapped in was just soaked with blood."

That dog was this Lab named Lanie. She died a short time later...according to her owner Lanie was diagnosed with what's believed to be hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

Russell Gibson..."and I heard her talking to the receptionist and she told her that her dog became ill having blood coming out of his rectum and she had picked him up from the daycare at the same place I had mine, the Pet Spot."

While the owners of The Pet Spot didn't talk with us on camera, they've posted this warning notice on their door advising customers that they're aware of a problem with sick dogs and that anyone experiencing similar problems should immediately take their animal to a vet.

We could see on their web cam that there were a number of dogs on site today.
State officials say they're aware of three dead dogs with HGE symptoms and they confirm that two of them have been at The Pet Spot, but no one can say for sure where the disease is coming from or how many cases exist in the area.

Pet Spot owner Jeff Voelpel told me on the phone he's spent the last two days scrubbing the place down and says everyone is awaiting test results.

Again it's important to point out that while the facility is connected to three of the four known cases of what's believed to be HGE at this point there's nothing that says definitively the problem is coming from Pet Spot.

State officials tell us that anyone who's had a dog at that facility or has a dog acting strangely should keep a close eye on it, and take it to a vet immediately if they start seeing bloody vomit or diarrhea.
State Department of Agriculture officials say they hope to have some additional answers in a few days.

They're also asking that any veterinarians treating dogs with these symptoms contact the department.

"First and foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to the families who lost their pets. In eight years, we have had more than 15,000 customers. We serve at least 1,000 dogs a week, and we have never had a situation like this. We are trying to find out what happened but do not have answers right now. In the meantime, we are communicating with our customers, monitoring the dogs closely and are continuing to take every precaution in maintaining a clean and safe environment."
- Jeff Voelpel, owner, The Pet Spot




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