Three dog deaths reported after stay at same facility

Three dogs dead in a matter of days who all suffered from what doctors say seems to be the same rare sickness.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - What's more, they all stayed at the same dog day care facility.

One pet owner says his dog Max had similar symptoms of the other three dogs that died.  All four recently stayed at the dog care center called The Pet Spot in Norwood. Max is doing well and improving, but that wasn't the case a few days ago.

Russell Gibson was on vacation, away from his dogs for a few days, but when he came back to pick them up on Friday, something was wrong with Max.

"Buster came to me right away. Max just didn't seem like his normal self," Gibson explained.

His suspicion took a frightening turn when he got home.

"Later on, I took a shower and got out of the shower, and I came into the other room, and there was just a pool of blood. It just looked like a crime scene," said Gibson.

Gibson quickly brought his dog to MedVet on Red Bank Road where doctors told him Max was suffering from symptoms similar to something called hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, better known as HGE. One key red flag is rectal bleeding.

"While I was there, another person came in and her lab had the same symptoms. I heard her telling the receptionist," said Gibson.

FOX19 spoke with that dog owner, and unfortunately, her dog didn't make it. Another dog that didn't make it is a Maltese named Mr. Benson, who would have been 4-years-old next week.

His owner is FOX19 meteorologist Frank Marzullo.

"It just happened to be that some made it and some didn't, and I'm so glad that he made it and stuff but at the same time, I am very sad about the other people who lost their dog," said Gibson.

So how worried should other pet owners be? Based on the symptoms, Dr. Larry Keller says it's hard to tell because this could range anywhere from a toxin, to a bacteria or a virus.

"It's scary as far as it goes because it happens so quickly," said Dr. Keller.

The majority of the pet owners who lost a dog to the sickness did have another one, but Gibson says doctors told him it's likely not contagious from dog to dog. Dr. Keller says the age of a dog can also make a difference in its likelihood of getting sick.

"Young dogs can be susceptible to some diseases more because their immune system isn't strong. That said, a really old dog too can be susceptible to it because their immune system is getting weaker," Dr. Keller explained.

A full statement from Pet Spot reads:

"First and foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to the families who lost their pets. In eight years, we have had more than 15,000 customers. We serve at least 1,000 dogs a week, and we have never had a situation like this. We are trying to find out what happened but do not have answers right now. In the meantime, we are communicating with our customers, monitoring the dogs closely and are continuing to take every precaution in maintaining a clean and safe environment."

-Jeff Voelpel, owner, The Pet Spot

Representatives from MedVet say they hope to have test results by the end of the week to confirm whether these cases are indeed related.

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