Juniper Park dog owners worry as canines get sick

By Sarina Trangle

Dog owners near Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village say they are trying to sniff out what is behind a spate of sick canines.

Dorothy Gaugler and Lisa Sanford, who helped start the Juniper Dog Lovers group, said it has heard from several people whose dogs have become ill the past week or two. After a published report suggested someone might be targeting dogs with poison, the group and owners have been eyeing potential hazards in the park, such as food remains, possibly spoiled dog food and rodent control materials or droppings and remnants from West Nile virus sprayings. The eastern part of the park seems to be where more dogs are picking up illnesses, although a portion of the park west of 80th Street functions as a dog run before 9 a.m., the two said. Juniper Valley Park runs from Dry Harbor Road to 71st Street between Juniper Boulevards North and South.

“It’s concerning because multiple dogs are getting sick, but the question is whether it’s criminal or people are just being stupid,” Gaugler said, noting that leftover human food being strewn around Juniper Valley Park was a hazard. “We just don’t know.”

Sanford said the Juniper Dog Lovers was encouraging owners to be vigilant with their pets and the larger community to ensure the park is clean.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation said it had heard concerns from owners and was monitoring the park carefully.

The Police Department said it had not received any related reports.

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said the organization had not heard any credible complaints, but encouraged dog owners with issues to reach out to police. Holden said one man called him, identified himself as an owner whose dog was poisoned, but then grew angry and hung up when Holden suggested he report the incident to cops. Holden said he gave the man’s number to police, who reached out to him, but were told he lived on the other side of Queens and had fabricated the story.

But illness has been very real for some.

Merrideth Mallon said her black lab Dexter vomited, experienced diarrhea and had blood in his stool for about a day and a half after running through the eastern part of the park.

“He’s eaten dolls before and they’ve come out completely whole. He has a very, very tough stomach,” Mallon said. “It had to be something that made him so much more sick than normal… we just have to clean up more and we have to be more diligent.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌al.com.

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