- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon State University Research Forests and College of Veterinary Medicine are investigating instances of dogs getting sick after visiting the Oak Creek access to the McDonald Research Forest.

It remains unclear as to what led to the dogs becoming sick, but representatives with OSU Research Forests said Thursday afternoon that more than one dog became sick after recently drinking from muddy water in the area.

Officials are advising pet owners to avoid letting their dogs drink from any public water source at McDonald Research Forest until authorities can determine the reason why the animals became ill.

“Some dogs have become ill in that area after we assume drinking something but we don’t know what it is, and we’re waiting to hear results from the OSU vet school,” said Steve Fitzgerald, the director of OSU Research Forests.

The College of Veterinary Medicine and members of OSU Research Forest were looking into an email that circulated on social media Wednesday and Thursday that included a tag from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. ODFW representatives said Thursday that the email was not sent from them in an official capacity, but a concerned dog owner who works there had forwarded the information.

“Almost all of our staff have dogs, and we’re extremely concerned about this,” Fitzgerald said. “I think the important thing is if other people’s dogs have become sick after being in that area or in other areas around Corvallis, they need to take their dogs to their vet. We need to know where and when it started.”

Copies of the email appearing on social media were posted Thursday to several trail entrances to McDonald Research Forests. Several people walking dogs in the area immediately turned around after reading the postings.

Amanda Swartz, 19, took her dog, Ginger, off of the trails immediately after learning about the notice.

“It’s concerning because I bring her here all the time,” Swartz said. “I bring her down here three times a week, and she loves drinking the water and getting in the mud. I’m going to go somewhere else because I don’t want her to get sick.”

Elisa Alphandary took her dog, Jorge, along Oak Creek in the McDonald Forest on Thursday afternoon to pick stinging nettles. After reading the notice, Alphandary said she would avoid letting Jorge near any bodies of water. While the notice listed stinging nettles as a possible cause for the dogs becoming sick, Alphandary, who works at OSU’s Botany Laboratory, had her doubts.

“The water seems totally fine usually,” Alphandary said. “Stinging nettles aren’t a toxic plant. We eat them all the time. That’s why we’re here to pick them.”

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Information from: Gazette-Times, https://www.gtconnect.com

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