We might not be quite out of the woods when it comes to sanitation issues at the dog run at McCarren Park. Neighborhood group McCarren Park Dog Run Allies reported that multiple dogs who visited the dog run recently have contracted Giardia.

Greenpointers might remember that an outbreak of leptospirosis occurred at the park in January and at least four dogs reportedly lost their lives to it. The dog run was temporarily shut down, in order to address what many neighbors said were substandard sanitation conditions, and a community clean-up on March 26 replaced some of the mulch, though McCarren Park Dog Run Allies says that it wasn’t enough.

“Despite our efforts, as I mentioned in the last post, WE DID NOT RECEIVE FRESH MULCH FROM @nycparks when we planned a cleanup, although Parks told us to expect it; forcing us to rake over and spread dirty woodchips and pick up trash and poop to the best of our ability — but it wasn’t enough,” said @mccarrendogallies on Instagram.

The group now hopes to raise funds for dog-safe mulch.

According to the CDC website, “Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by the microscopic parasite Giardia duodenalis (or “Giardia” for short).” The disease can be spread through coming into contact with contaminated fecal matter, eating or drinking something that has been contaminated, or coming into contact with a surface or soil that has been contaminated. The chances of your dog passing it to you are low, though it’s possible. 


Greenpointers has heard from at least two neighbors that their pet contracted Giardia. “My last experience at the dog park seemed fine, it of course was dirty but I only bring my dog when I am prepared to give her a bath after because she get’s filthy,” local Gina Scafide told Greenpointers via email. “I usually do not take her in the park but instead do off leash at the park across the street (when the rangers aren’t in site). My dog in particular always eats at the dirt and wood chips, so I am sure she got sick from that. This situation was the final straw for me, and I will not be taking my dog in that park anymore, it is actually disgusting and dangerous!”

Scafide said that her dog was tested for the disease, and a vet confirmed the diagnosis.

Local veterinary clinic Bond Vet has confirmed seeing numerous Giardia patients at the clinic over the past few weeks.

“As with most illness, your pet’s best protection against giardiasis is prevention. Unlike other parasites that can harm your pet, there aren’t preventative medications to protect your furry friends from Giardia, so disinfection and monitoring is critical. The most important step you can take is to provide your pet with constant access to fresh, clean drinking water. Giardia thrives in water, so it’s important that your pet’s drinking water is replaced frequently and sanitized, ” Bond Vet’s Medical Director Dr. Jake Jaffe, DVM, said.

Other suggested prevention methods include wiping pets’ paws after walks to remove any trace particles, picking up and disposing of any waste immediately (especially in public areas frequented by other dogs), and isolating your pet when it is infected to reduce spread. 

While neighbors have reported cases of Giardia, the City’s Parks Department says it hasn’t heard anything about the disease spreading. “We have not received any reports regarding giardia stemming from visits to the dog friendly area in McCarren Park. Characterizing any potential cases in the area as an outbreak is inaccurate as this is unconfirmed,” said Anessa Hodge, press officer with NYC Parks. “It is important to note that giardia is unrelated to rats and is contracted through contact with infected feces. As is the rule outside of dog parks, cleaning up after one’s pup is required of all humans who visit with their pets. In recent months we have made targeted improvements to the McCarren dog friendly area including a full replacement of the woodchips to prioritize pet safety; and DOH has informed us that they did not find rat infestations via their inspection of the space.”

Erin Conlon also contributed reporting to this piece.

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