The death of any pet is utterly heartbreaking, whether it has been expected for some time or has come out of the blue. Imagine, then, that you have absolutely no idea why your dog has died, or what has caused their passing. The utter helplessness and frustration that you would experience would no doubt be immeasurable. However, that's how numerous pet parents in Albuquerque's West Side must be feeling right now as many beloved, seemingly healthy dogs began to suffer from the same mysterious symptoms. In recent months, dozens of pups have become seriously ill with many passing away, leaving veterinarians stumped.
Joe, an eight-year-old Border Collie mix and service dog passed away in August after becoming lethargic, vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, and losing his appetite. Despite a veterinarian's opinion that the bug would run its course, Joe's condition deteriorated. The results of blood tests carried out by a local hospital revealed that the dog's liver enzymes were dangerously elevated, and Joe had to be put to sleep — he'd been ill just 48 hours. At first, Joe's pet parents, Amy Neel and her husband, thought little of it – aside from being devastated by their loss. However, an innocent conversation with neighbors soon revealed that several families in their vicinity had lost family pets under the same circumstances, and with the same elevated liver enzymes levels being discovered.
The discussion escalated on Nextdoor.com, with a lady named Christina Rhoderick monitoring the data that was collected from concerned pet parents. In the last 12 months, more than 50 dogs have died following the same sudden onset of symptoms. 24 of those dogs have passed away since May, and ten during September alone. 46 dogs have experienced similar symptoms but have been saved by veterinarians. What could be causing these symptoms and killing these much-loved pets?
Pet parents and experts have ruled out mass poisoning because of the sheer number of dogs affected, while the symptoms associated with rat poisons, antifreeze, and strychnine exposure simply don't fit the known cases. Environmental factors such as diseases passed by wild animals, herbicides, and an infection cannot be discounted just yet, but the simple fact is that no one really knows why these dogs are falling ill. The city's Environmental Health department is closely monitoring the cases as they are reported, and we can only hope that the area's pet parents can soon breathe a little easier.