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6 dogs die after visiting Utah dog training area

Photos show a light gray substance near the water, which may be the source of a bacteria that caused the dogs to die.
6 dogs die after visiting Utah dog training area
Posted at 7:38 AM, May 25, 2023

A dog training area in Salt Lake City is closed until further notice due to potential contamination that resulted in the deaths of six dogs.

It is located in the Lee Kay Conservation Area. According to dog owner and trainer Eric Fryer, the  conservation area is one of the few places available for dog trainers.

“There's really nowhere we have, any state around here, that has anything close to what we have at Lee Kay," he said. “Whether you're training a dog just to be a hunting dog or you want to go to the top levels of competition, you've got to have water, and you've got to have clean water to teach them to swim, to teach them to do whatever we need them to do.”

Officials report that on Saturday they were notified that six dogs who were training in the area were vomiting and had diarrhea.

Starting on May 12, a dog trainer brought 13 dogs to the area for training sessions over the course of eight days, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley explained.

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“The dog owner had reported observing some of the dogs eating kind of a crusty, salt-like layer on some of the grass near the edge of the water," she said.

The trainer allowed the dogs to roam around the property and into the pond and later noticed the dogs were vomiting.

Photos show a light gray substance near the water, which may be the source of a bacteria that caused the illnesses.

The illnesses did not resolve and one of the dogs had to be euthanized, while five others died shortly after. The entire conservation area was closed to the public until officials can confirm the cause of death of the six dogs.

Tests are underway to determine if there was any contamination at the dog training area, but until an investigation is complete, a padlock will be put on the gate.

"We are working with the Utah Division of Water Quality and will work to take the needed precautions to ensure the safety of visitors at the training grounds before reopening the area to public use," a statement from officials reads. "Public safety and the well-being of the dogs that use this facility are a top priority for us. Our heart goes out to the dog owner for the unfortunate loss of these dogs."

“I've been going to Lee Kay since the mid-'90s," Fryer said. "Currently, I'm out there probably four or five days a week. I've never had an issue with any of my dogs.”

Utah Division of Water Quality researchers are still waiting on the results of their tests. The area will remain closed out of an abundance of caution.

This story was originally published by Melanie Porter and Jenna Bree at Scripps News Salt Lake City.

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