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Dog owner hopes to spread awareness after beloved dog dies from disease

Posted at 11:18 PM, Apr 12, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Karen Olson and her husband walk their beloved rescue dogs on the sidewalk in their Rancho Penaquistos neighborhood every night.

But their pack of four is missing a member, Ozzie, the four-year-old lab mix.

“Our hearts are very, very heavy,” Olson said. “He was very sensitive, very loving and very kind. He was always a protector of our little dogs.”

A week and a half ago, Olson got a phone call from her husband saying that the pack’s protector wasn’t doing well and was heading to the emergency vet.

“About 5:30 in the morning, we got the call that he’s dying and that he’s kidney functions are only at 20 percent. And all of his numbers are off of the chart for everything else. So, he didn’t know why; there was no real cause of action,” Olson said.

Despite being vaccinated for it, Olson said Ozzie tested positive for leptospirosis. Sadly, Olson told ABC 10News that Ozzie died from the disease.

“Leptospirosis is a bacterial that can infect a lot of different species, a lot of wildlife. It can infect our dogs, and it’s also zoonotic, meaning that it can infect humans as well,” Dr. Zarah Hedge, Chief Medical Officer for the San Diego Humane Society, said.

Olson said the vet had let them know the disease could also be contracted by humans.

“He was very insistent that we, our family, humans actually go get a test early in the morning first thing as well as our dogs because it’s a very deadly disease,” Olson said.

The disease primarily impacts the kidneys or liver of dogs, according to the Veterinary Centers of America.

San Diego Humane Society’s chief medical officer told ABC 10News it spreads through the urine of an infected animal, which dogs can be exposed to by being outside in contaminated water.

“They’d have to drink it. So maybe if they’re swimming in it, some of that’s inevitably going to go in their mouth. Or, again, if it’s just like a puddle and they walk by and they take a drink, that can be how they can be exposed to that,” Hedge said.

Hedge told ABC 10News vaccines for the disease used to be mainly recommended for dogs who used to be in rural areas.

She said the American Veterinary Medical Association now says all dogs should get vaccinated.

“And fortunately, the vaccines work really well and so definitely something I would recommend for anyone who has a dog,” Hedge said.

Hedge said she hasn’t seen anything saying we’re seeing a spike in cases right now; instead, isolated pockets pop up here and there.

Regardless, Olson wants the story of the fur family’s protector to inspire others to protect their dogs.

“It’s my voice just to help other animals and humans to get their vaccinations and to get tested. And, just please, take care of your animal,” Olson said.