Rat droppings poison ‘Dog Beach’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Here’s a message for dogs taking a dip in a popular pond in Prospect Park: Don’t drink the water.

Prospect Park’s Dog Beach, where hundreds of dogs cool off each day, has become a haven for disease-ridden rats whose bacteria-laden feces and urine could kill the canines.

The problem, health experts say, is that rats are known to be carriers for leptospitosis, a potentially fatal disease that damages the liver and kidneys of both humans and animals, and has been labeled the “most widespread [animal-transmitted] disease in the world” by the Center for Disease Control.

Pets become infected when they come in contact with bodily tissues or fluids from a diseased animal — something not that hard to do with sick rodents urinating in Dog Beach on a daily basis.

“In humans, this mostly causes a short-term flu-like illness. In fact, most people don’t even know they’re infected,” said CDC spokesman Shawn Shadomy. “But there are over 200 strains, each targeting a specific type of animal.”

Shadomy added that areas like the beach are prime targets for the disease: nearby rainwater can wash in infected urine on the ground, rodents can defecate in the pool itself, and the bacteria is hearty enough to survive in damp areas.

After complaints by Park Slopers this week, Parks Department workers put poisoned bait in the rats’ nests.

“The rats come out in full force in the summer,” said Bob Ipcar, a member of FIDO Prospect Park, a dog-owners group. “With all the picnics over the weekend, you dread coming here with your dog on Monday.”

Dog Beach is about 300 yards from the Picnic House.

Four dogs contracted serious cases last year, leading to one death, according to FIDO President Anthony Chiappelloni.

But few dog owners playing on the beach knew anything about leptospitosis.

On hearing the news, Arcell Cabug, with his dog Ashitaki, said, “I’m never going to let him in the water now.”

Glynn Sullivan, out walking his dog Zora, had also never heard of the deadly disease, but remained unfazed.

“She eats s— in the street,” he said. “That’s probably going to kill her too.”

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Reader Feedback

Seth from PLG says:
Doesn't the article description describe basically any body of water? That is, can't any lake, pond, river, ocean et cetera become a haven for leptospitosis? Is there something in particular that the Dog Beach has or does not have that makes it a target for this?

The story does not say.
Aug. 28, 2008, 7:52 pm
DJ from PS says:
Yes, any body of water could be a haven, however due to the small size of the pond and the large concentration of rats, I'd imagine the dog beach would be particularly vulnerable.
Aug. 29, 2008, 10:55 am
GG from Windsor Terrace says:
The article should have noted that there is a canine vaccine for leptospirosis. I believe it is administered yearly.
Sept. 8, 2008, 12:08 pm
mr rogers from kensington says:
I had no knowledge of this deadly disease. My dog Terra,a mix breed Pit Bull/Boxer, died yesterday(7-07-09)while swimming in Prospect Park Lake. Myself and other dog owners were shocked and couldn't believe what was happening. Park workers saw what had happened and said nothing. An alert of some sort should be posted in the park to alert dog owners of this deadly problem. If only I had known. Thanks for the ear,
July 9, 2009, 12:49 am
Elizabeth from WT says:
and they worry about the geese
July 3, 2011, 9:38 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
They don't need to kill the rats. People can get their dogs innoculated against lepto. My dog gets the shot every year.
July 3, 2011, 9:40 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
There should be signs up warning people about lepto and informing them that there is a vaccine.
July 3, 2011, 9:42 pm
Paul from Park Slope says:
The garbage situation is out of control.

I was at dog beach the other day and was concerned for the turtles hanging on the logs..there was a heck of alot of plastic everything in the water at dog beach, not to mention the other garbage. I won't let my dog in that water anymore. Not safe.
July 3, 2011, 9:48 pm
Randi from Windsor Terrace says:
Other than crime prevention, I think garbage, littering & illegal BBQing should be the number one concerns of the parks department. So many of the other problems in the park are caused by this.
July 3, 2011, 10:27 pm
steve from brooklyn says:
wow thank you everyone for letting me know I was looking for a beach to take my 2 dogs too. I have an 5year old American red nose bull and a 4 month old American bully I can take them there thank you for giving heads up and open my eyes
July 5, 2014, 6:36 am

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