Can Dog Parks Kill?

This is horror story an excellent example of why I emphasize the danger of dog parks and other public places or events where dogs congregate unless a responsible person of authority is checking health records and immunization status and enforcing standards for monitoring and supervision behavioral anomalies. The rabid puppy  is now dead, but you can bet that this story is far from over for some of the major players and their beloved pets. Dog Parks are in my opinion a misguided idea and sometimes deadly public service construct with ominous implications for your beloved pet and even yourself if you or your family members get caught in the crossfire. Most of us have a healthy fear of rabies, and while it is a relatively uncommon event, it happens. But it’s not just rabies that can kill your pet, or cause catastrophic illness which is exceedingly costly to attempt to treat complements of an array of little viruses that can sometimes be as deady as rabies to our four legged friends. The majority of these profoundly infectious agents can be effectively protected against by timely vaccinations but are you honestly willing to put your pet at risk based on the belief that the pets of people who frequent dog parks are effectively and completely vaccinated. Read on to hear the story of how one fool cared so much that the it cost his puppy it’s life and exposed a public park full of his peers to a vicious disease that is virtually untreatable after the victim has become symptomatic.




Updated: Feb 24, 2015 10:44 PM CST

A health warning is being issued for Travis County.

This comes after a dog was brought to Zilker Park in later tested positive for rabies.
On most weekends you will find this place packed. Adding a rabid dog to the mix can mean several people and animals were put at risk.

Cooper is a playful and active Australian Shepherd mix, who absolutely loves going to Zilker Park.

The last time Kelly Marose and her boyfriend went was about two weeks ago; the same day that a dog with rabies was confirmed to have been there.

“I just think it was really scary to hear that there was a dog that had rabies running around because I mean, there were little kids, there were just tons of people everywhere. It was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it be at Zilker since we moved here,” says Kelly Marose, pet owner.

Austin Animal Services says on Sunday, February 8th a pet owner brought their nine-month-old Border Collie mix to Zilker Park, who had no vaccinations. At the time, the dog was not showing any symptoms for rabies.

They were about 50 yards from the sand volleyball courts between 3 to 6 in the evening.

“Did” the dog mainly played fetch with his owner but could have had nose-to-nose interaction with other pets.

“They weren’t on their leashes, playing together. It’s really scary and sounds really irresponsible,” says Marose.

“If you go to a common place, where your animal will have contact, or likely to have contact with other animals, other dogs or whatever the case may be, make sure your animal is vaccinated. If you vaccinate today, the vaccine is not protecting your animal tomorrow. It takes about thirty days,” says Chris Noble, Deputy Chief Animal Services Officer.

On average we’re told it takes 3 to 8 weeks following exposure for an animal to develop signs of rabies. It was on February 12th when that began and the dog tested positive. It’s believed he was infected by a skunk.

“It can be depression, fever, loss of appetite. From there the symptoms progress into things like abnormal behaviors, self-mutilation type behaviors,” says April Moore, Animal Protection Supervisor.

At the most extreme is death. In this case the dog was euthanized. We’re told about a half-dozen people and several animals were potentially exposed. Something that Marose says could’ve been easily avoided

“Just taking good care of your dog because I look at my dog like my family. So I want him to be as healthy as he can and the best shape he can be,” says Marose.

If you were at Zilker Park on February 8th and suspect that your dog may have been in contact with the sick border collie mix, you’re asked to call Austin Animal Services at 311 and see a veterinarian.

Animal protection says the last time Travis County had a domestic animal test positive for rabies was five years ago but rabies and bats is a very common here.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, in Travis County there were 89 cases in 2013, 115 in 2014 and 3 in January of this year.

If you were at the park with your dog during this time and suspect your dog had nose to nose contact with this 9-10 month old black and white Border Collie mix please do the following:

Call Austin Animal Services immediately at 311

Follow up with your dog’s veterinarian for evaluation to see if a rabies vaccine booster is recommended


Rabies exposure:
Rabies virus is shed through the oral fluids of an infectious animal. Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into a bite wound, open cuts in skin, or onto mucous membranes such as mouth, nostrils or eyes.

Rabies incubation period in animals varies. On average it takes 3-8 weeks following exposure for an animal to develop signs of rabies. During this time the virus travels from the initial exposure site along an animal’s nerves to the spinal cord and brain. From the brain, the virus travels to the saliva glands and the saliva. Rabies may be prevented following an exposure through one or more post exposure rabies vaccinations.

Signs of animal rabies:

First symptoms: change in personality, depression, fever and loss of appetite

Signs progress within days to nervous system abnormalities:
-abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation
-cranial nerve (dropped jaw, tongue incoordination, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation)
-ataxia (wobbly, weakness, paralysis, seizures)

Animal Rabies Prevention:
Regular pet check-ups with your veterinarian
Current rabies vaccination for your pet