Dead dog sparks inquiry

03:26, Aug 31 2009

Confusion surrounds the cause of a dog’s death after exercising on Stanmore Bay Beach last week.

The dog was already dead when brought to the Whangaparaoa Veterinary Centre last Monday.

A vet’s post-mortem found the dog died from a ruptured tumour, a natural cause.

Despite the vet’s conclusion, the Auckland Regional Council requested samples from the dog’s liver and stomach be sent to Nelson’s Cawthron Institute for testing to see if the dog’s death was in any way linked to tetrodotoxin, the toxin responsible for poisoning dogs at North Shore beaches.

"The dog exhibited symptoms similar to dogs that died after exercising on Narrow Neck beach, so we are testing the dog," says ARC spokesman Andrew Bristol.

Whangaparaoa vets say it is unlikely the dog died from poisoning.

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries MAF say they did not request the test and have accepted the vet’s post-mortem results.

"We have no connection to the ARC’s request for testing," MAF spokeswoman Annie Wright says.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service says it doesn’t know the cause of the dog’s death.

The Rodney District Council says the death was not reported to them.

"Despite that, we made extensive inquiries to ascertain what we could about the dog.

"We are also arranging additional signage in view of these latest developments," says council spokesman Mike Isle.

"We are also keeping in close contact with MAF and the ARC, both of which have assumed lead agency roles in this situation."

The Cawthron Institute expect test results today.

Reports on the cause of deaths of an unusual numbers of dolphins in the Hauraki Gulf were expected on Friday, but Massey University marine biologist and dolphin expert Dr Karen Stockin says she doesn’t have anything at this stage.

"We still have no results. We don’t know when we will know more, it depends on how fast the histopathology reports can be done," says Dr Stockin.

"There are eight different animals currently undergoing testing – all major organs have sections sent. These tests take a lot of time."

The public health service is still advising people to keep children and dogs away from Hauraki Gulf beaches.

Beach visitors should not handle any marine life, swim, or collect shellfish.

"We know that going to the beach is a favourite pastime for Aucklanders, so these warnings are not made lightly," says clinical director Dr Julia Peters.

"We understand people’s frustration at this constraint on their lifestyle, but our overriding concern is to protect public health."

Rodney residents are reporting sightings of porcupine puffer fish, which contain tetrodotoxin, and dead penguins.

Rodney Times