City shutters Manhattan Beach Dog Run after string of kennel cough cases

Pups enjoy a dog run in Kensington. Over on Oriental Boulevard, the Manhattan Beach Dog Run is temporarily closed to stem a spread of kennel cough.
File photo by Paul Martinka

The city’s Parks Department shuttered Manhattan Beach’s namesake dog run for one week at the request of a local veterinarian after multiple cases of kennel cough were linked to the play space.

An Oct. 3 Facebook post on the dog park’s dedicated social media page alerted locals to the dog run’s closure, which came after Dr. Jeffrey Stein of Manhattan Beach Animal Clinic penned a letter to the city agency on Sept. 29, alerting officials that a number of his canine patients had come down with the virus since visiting the Manhattan Beach Dog Run.

“There has been an excessive amount of cases of the upper respiratory infection in dogs known as kennel cough,” Stein wrote in the letter. “This issue started occurring about 10 days ago when dogs were experiencing symptoms of diarrhea, really bad cough and fever presented at Manhattan Beach Animal Clinic.”

A dog belonging to a friend of one of Dr. Stein’s technicians first came down with the virus around Sept. 19. Days later, the technician said her own dog contracted kennel cough after also using the fenced-in space on Oriental Boulevard.

“About two to three days after, my dog got it and then it just started becoming a whole pandemic,” said Alice Machensky, who works at Manhattan Beach Animal Clinic with Dr. Stein. “My other friends’ dogs were getting it and other people going to that dog park.”

Since his office’s initial case, the southern Brooklyn animal doctor says he’s treated nearly 25 dogs in a three-week span — all of whom are believed to have contracted the kennel cough from socializing at the dog run, which has been closed as of Oct. 2, approximately one week after Dr. Stein sent his letter to Parks.

“Since then the cases of this bacterial infection has (sic) drastically risen due to an open playground (dog park) on Manhattan Beach and lack of vaccination among dogs,” Dr. Stein’s letter reads.

While the vet recommends closing the dog run for two to three weeks to prevent the epidemic from further spreading, the Parks Department plans to reopen the park on Oct. 10 — contrary to Dr. Stein’s warnings.

“The park would have to be closed for about 2-3 weeks in order to prevent this epidemic from spreading and signs should be posted to alert the public,” the animal doctor said.

A Parks Department spokeswoman contends that the dog run has been fully sanitized and will be hosed down two more times before it is expected to reopen over the upcoming weekend. 

“We emphasize the safety and health of all of our parkgoers, including our four-legged friends. Out of an abundance of caution and by the recommendation of a local veterinarian, we closed the dug run last Friday and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the area,” said Anessa Hodgson. “We plan to reopen the dog run by this weekend”

Machensky, who played a major role in advocating for the play space’s temporary closure, said she is glad that the Parks Department took action to protect the safety of the city’s four-legged residents, but worries the week-long quarantine might not be enough to end the area’s kennel cough epidemic.

“You can disinfect and stuff, a bacterial infection doesn’t just go away,” Machensky said. “Maybe the week will do something, but we can only wait and see, to be honest.”

Symptoms of kennel cough in canines include a strong cough, often with a “honking” sound, a runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, and a loss of appetite, according to the American Kennel Club, which states that, while uncommon, kennel cough can — in incredibly rare cases — be passed from animals to humans. The highly contagious virus can be warded off with the Bordetella vaccine.