|Quay Meadow, Lancaster. Photo: Beyond the Castle|
(Updated 11th June): Beyond the Castle - the group aiming create a high-quality public space around Lancaster’s historic castle - reports they have been made aware that a dog has died on Lancaster's Quay Meadow, and a number of dogs have taken ill.
Symptoms appear to be lethargy, sickness, loss of appetite. The dog that died had a shrunk kidney while another had serious diahorrea.
"We do not know the cause of death, or if it is linked to the meadow," they state in a post on their Facebook page, "but we would encourage owners to be cautious and maybe keep dogs on a lead for now.
"We don't want to cause alarm, but thought we should share this information with you.
"Please contact us if you have any relevant information while we are trying to establish facts."
UPDATE: Beyond Lancaster continue to investigate this issue. They have found some local evidence of weedkilling along houses on the Quay (not by the Lancaster Council), but there is no reason to assume that this would have caused problems for dogs, as some have speculated.
Any spraying by the Council (or an approved contractor) would be glyphosate based (or similar) and would not cause an acute public safety issue, although the jury is about about long term build up in soil and water courses. "We have double checked with Environmental Services and there has not been any spraying in recent weeks," the organisation report, which has also walked the Meadow with Environmental Services to see if anything out of the ordinary was in evidence.
"We have spoken to Burch Tree Vets and Bay Vets," they state. "Both practices are not aware of unusual incidences of dog deaths or illnesses. However, recently there have been some cases of the Parvovirus and one of the sympthoms is diahorrea. The virus can be deadly, but a vaccine is available.
"We were also advised of another illness that can lead to organ failure, a bacterial infection called Leptospirosis, transmitted via rat urine. Again, a vaccine is available.
"We have not come across anything that would suggest foul play, but as the dogs in questions have been off the lead, and possibly in and out of private properties, it is impossible to establish with certaintly the chain of events.
"We are talking to the ward councillors and also the owner of the dead dog (that we know of), and we have asked to be kept informed if they wish to pursue the matter through the Police/ the PCSO. In the meantime we would advise owners to keep dogs away from residential properties/ gardens, and consider vaccinations. And please contact us and/or your ward councillors with any concerns or relevant information."