Freedom Dog Park is scheduled to reopen to the public on Wednesday after nearly two weeks of precautionary measures to decontaminate the park after a dog that visited there was diagnosed with canine parvovirus.
Dr. David Shepherd, owner of Roanoke Animal Hospital, said the most important thing is “this isn’t something to panic about.”
He said the answer is keeping your dog from getting the virus to “vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.”
The catalyst for the shutdown was a Labrador retriever that visited the dog park on July 11.
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The dog became ill on July 13, was taken to the vet the following evening and subsequently diagnosed with the contagious virus that primarily affects dogs.
The dog, whose owners live in Fort Worth, “responded well to treatment and is now at home with its owner,” Trophy Club spokeswoman April Reiling said Thursday.
The spokeswoman said the city responded to the dog’s illness by being “proactive and cautious” — shutting down the park July 17 — adding that “people were grateful” for their actions.
Trophy Club officials have been distributing information on its website and elsewhere about the incident, saying that the virus is spread by direct or indirect contact with feces.
The announcement said that because of the “highly contagious nature of the virus,” the park was closed while it was cleaned and sanitized by staff.
“There is no indication that the dog contracted the virus at Freedom Dog Park, but may have contaminated the area,” according to Trophy Club spokeswoman Alora Wachholz.
She said the town is taking all necessary precautions.
Crews had to wait until the ground dried completely from the rains July 17 before beginning the process of cleaning and disinfecting. The dog park is receiving two rounds of remediation utilizing a diluted bleach solution to spray all areas where feces was found, as well as dog equipment, dog wash stations, drinking fountains, entryways and the parking lot.
Crews will conduct a final sweep of the dog park, along with regularly scheduled maintenance, on Tuesday.
“They will go over it with a fine-tooth comb,” Reiling said.
According to Wachholz, although the dog park is being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, there is no guarantee the virus has been eliminated. Staff will remain vigilant and monitor any indication of further canine exposure to parvovirus, she said.
Freedom Dog Park guidelines require that all visiting dogs have a current rabies vaccination, and no puppies under four months old are allowed.
City officials said that vaccinated dogs are usually protected against contracting the virus.
Although cases can be found any time of the year, he said the disease tends to be seasonal and linked to moist, warm conditions, such is optimal during the spring and fall.
Shepherd emphasized that any possible link of parvovirus to the dog park is not a reason to be afraid to return, as long as vaccinations are in place.
“It is extremely rare for a dog or puppy whose vaccinations are complete and up-to-date to contract the virus,” Shepherd said.
Signs to look for in parvovirus cases, he said, are profound lethargy, vomiting, unwillingness to eat and diarrhea, especially with obvious blood.
He said that parvovirus is a virus that once shed from the host into the environment has a long shelf life of contamination.
“You can clean and disinfect the park, but the problem is that there is not a very complete way to decontaminate soil,” Shepherd said. “Assume the world is contaminated everywhere.”
Southlake spokeswoman Pilar Schank said they have received no reports of the virus at BooBoo’s Buddies Community Dog Park, located at Bob Jones Park, but they are prepared to take action should the need arise.
Rick and Kenda Peterson have been taking Chloe, a Shih Tzu-Papillon mix, to Freedom Dog Park since she was six months old. The park is a fun time for the nearly three-year-old pet, as well as for her owners.
“The dogs get to play, but it is also a social hour for the owners who like to visit with one another,” Kenda Peterson said.
Peterson said they were appreciative of the precautions the city took in shutting the park down and cleaning it up.
She said they plan to resume their social outings once the park reopens, knowing that it is a favorite pastime of Chloe’s.
“She’s a special girl,” Peterson said.