NEW YORK - Dakarrie Garcia began training his cousin’s two-year-old French bulldog, Oreo, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Oreo recently fell ill and had to be euthanized shortly after testing positive for leptospirosis, a bacterial illness spread through the urine of infected animals; most typically, rodents.
"It kind of hit close to home. I really liked that dog," he says.
Dr. Jonathan Jaffe, Medical Director at Bond Vet, says the disease is preventable in dogs with a vaccine.
"The clinical signs are lethargy, appetite problems, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting," he adds.
However, Garcia still fears the disease is rapidly spreading where he lives in Williamsburg.
"New York State is in an epidemic with this rat problem," Garcia mentions.
Democratic City Council member Lincoln Restler, who represents the neighborhood, tells FOX 5 NY he's been informed that several other dogs have died after coming down with symptoms associated with leptospirosis.
"I first got an email from a neighbor alerting me to two dogs they believed had leptospirosis. Since then, we’ve now been informed of, reportedly, four dog fatalities."
Some neighbors are blaming the deaths on poor conditions at the McCarren Park dog run.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene could not confirm any reports of canine leptospirosis related to the park.
A spokesperson wrote in a statement: "We are working with NYC Parks to inspect for rat activity. In the past year, we have only received two 311 complaints regarding rodents in McCarren Park."
The Parks Department is beginning work to clean up the area, which will include the replacement of wood chips and an exterminator inspection.