Refresh of the Dog Run at McCarren Park Begins January 24

Map of McCarren Park where the unofficial dog run is located

UPDATE 02.20.22
The the dog run a McCarren Park was in full use. Wood chips had been replaced a few weeks prior.

The dogs and their people have returned to the dog run at McCarren Park after its wood chips had been replaced.

Original article:

Starting Monday, the dog run at McCarren Park will be refreshed. This includes replacement of the wood chips and conducting an exterminator inspection.  While the work is being done the dog run will be closed for about a week.  NYC Parks also noted, “Currently, there is no formal dog run at McCarren Park, and this is a makeshift area that has been unofficially used for this purpose.”

Earlier in the week signs began being posted at the dog run claiming that it was identified as a source of leptospirosis in the local dog community.  On January 19, District 33 NYC Council Member Lincoln Restler stated on Instagram, “We have received reports of multiple dog fatalities in Williamsburg. … The reports to our office indicate that dogs played at McCarren Dog Run before becoming sick. I have spoken with the Department of Health, which is actively investigating these cases to confirm if leptospirosis was the cause of death. We have also contacted the Parks Department, which will be delivering mulch this week. We will stay closely in touch with City agencies to address this situation swiftly and thoroughly.”

According to the CDC, “Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death. The bacteria that cause leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Many different kinds of wild and domestic animals carry the bacterium.” The disease is more usually found in rural areas, but in cities rat urine can be a source of the bacterium.

Anessa Hodgson, press officer of NYC Parks, said, “We like our four-legged friends happy and healthy, and are sad to learn that some pups may have recently been impacted by leptospirosis. We are actively engaged with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and exploring options to mitigate any related risks. Characterizing the reported cases as an outbreak is inaccurate as this is unconfirmed. We understand the cause for concern and urge dog owners to be vigilant and cautious when walking their pets. We also encourage owners to speak to their veterinarian if their pet is sick and to discuss if their pet should be vaccinated.” She also added, “In the past year we have only received two 311 complaints regarding rodents in McCarren Park.”

There is a vaccine for leptospirosis, it is a two-dose vaccine: a first shot is given then a second shot follows two to four weeks later. Other helpful preventions are to wash your dog’s paws after it has been outside, steer them clear of puddles, and call 311 to report rat sightings in parks.  The CDC informs, “The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Drinking contaminated water can also cause infection. Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to contaminated water, such as floodwaters. Person to person transmission is rare.”  However, humans can catch leptospirosis from their pets, but normal daily activities with your pet will not put you at high risk for leptospirosis infection.  Symptoms of leptospirosis in pets are: fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, muscle pains, lethargy, etc.  Antibiotics can treat the infection, the earlier an infected pet is treated the more rapid the recovery.  

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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