Dog contracts botulism, nearly dies after swimming in pond

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (WTXF) -- Willy the toy Australian Shepherd took a swim in a Utah park's pond on Thursday, and picked up something that nearly killed him.

The dog and his owner were at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City on Thursday and after Willy emerged from the pond, his owner says she noticed he was lethargic and short of breath.

From there, Willy's condition got even worse. He was not eating or drinking water and then he became paralyzed.

Owner Jeni Talbot said, "It started from his hind legs and his bum and then moved towards his head and neck and respiratory."

Willy was treated a local health clinic, and he's still recovering. However, he could have suffered a much worse fate.

In June, dozens of ducks were found dead in Sugarhouse Park.

Now, in order to warn residents, Talbot is posting signs around the park.

"The condition is totally fatal. And in a smaller animal, he would've died within 24 hours," Talbot said.

According to Dr. Jeffery Simmons at Advanced Veterinary Care, dogs can contract botulism if they ingest infected carcasses or meat, or grass and soil. Botulism lives in these things and can very easily be activated.

"Typically, they have to be in something that is fairly rancid and has been somewhat in warm climate, so this time of year's perfect," Dr. Simmons said.

Talbot is just happy that her dog is on the road to recovery and his infection was able to be detected quickly.

"Be aware, just know that this is a potential harm or threat there," Talbot said.