Dogs die after visiting North Tacoma park

VIDEO: Mysterious Dog Disease

TACOMA, Wash. — Park officials are investigating reports that dogs died of a bacterial disease after frequently visiting a North Tacoma park.

Warning signs have been posted at Garfield Park in North Tacoma, saying park officials are investigating reports that three dogs that frequented the park have died of leptospirosis.

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According to dog owners who called the News Tribune, their two dogs died last week from the disease after visiting the park.

KIRO 7 reporter Jeff Dubois is following the story and looking into how the disease can affect humans for our special newscast at 4 p.m. >>

The disease is a bacterial infection that, for dogs, can cause liver failure and death. It is usually spread through the urine of infected dogs.

One couple said they saw their dog drink water from a puddle at the park. Their dog then became lethargic and then died a few days later, the News Tribune reported.

Metro Parks Tacoma is investigating and is urging people to keep their pets out of Garfield Park while water samples are tested.

"While we investigate these reports, we recommend that pets stay out of Garfield Park at this time," Metro Parks said in a statement. "The disease also can be spread to humans through contact with infected animals or contaminated water or soil, so we further recommend that adults and children avoid puddles and wash thoroughly after coming into contact with the soil."

And since leptospirosis can spread to humans through infected animals, contaminated water or soil, it's recommended adults and children avoid puddles and wash their hands thoroughly if they go to Garfield Park, which remains open. People might want to wash their shoes, too.

Humans can develop flu-like systems that can lead to meningitis and liver failure.

Anyone who has information about the cases involving the three dogs is asked to call Metro Parks Tacoma at 253-305-1030.