County closes dog park after dog contracts “flesh eating mold’

Leon County Dog Park closed over potential contamination
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 11:25 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County has closed Bradfordville Dog Park after a dog that visited got sick from a “flesh eating mold.”

“The County received a report of a dog believed to have contracted a naturally occurring contaminant found near ponds and wetlands,” Leon County spokesperson Matt Cavell said in a statement to WCTV.

“The dog had recently visited Bradfordville Dog Park. Therefore, in an abundance of caution and to keep pets safe, the County has closed the park while analysis is underway,” Cavell said.

On Twitter, County Commissioner Brian Welch said the contaminant was a possible pythiosis/pythium or “flesh eating mold.”

Late Friday afternoon, County Commissioner Brian Welch announced the county was planning to install fencing around the water in the park, and dogs would no longer be able to access it. Permanent signage is also being installed that will warn about risk of illness for dogs who enter the water. The process would be done “ASAP.”

A local veterinarian told WCTV the incident is no reason for pet owners to panic. She says the mold is commonly found in stagnant water, and recommends pet owners keep their animals out of those bodies of water to prevent them from getting sick.

Veterinary information online says pythiosis is caused by an organism called Pythium insidiosum. The organism can affect the gastrointestinal tract or the skin. The most effective treatment is surgical removal of all infected tissues, including amputation if a limb is involved.

Gabrielle Pessin owns several dogs and occasionally takes them to Bradfordville Dog Park.

“It’s a really good area for dogs running around and getting all that energy out,” she said.

She said learning about the dog’s illness was concerning.

“It’s a pet parent’s worst nightmare. You’re just taking your dog to the park or out in your backyard doing anything and you see this lesion and it turns into this insane flesh-eating mold,” she said.

Despite the concern, Pessin said she wasn’t going to panic, and won’t change any of her habits.

“The best thing you can do to protect your pups is educate yourself online through reputable sources or through your vets,” she said.

A local animal clinic, Novey Animal Hospital, took to Facebook Friday to clarify the situation.