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Douglas County Health Department has "no conclusive evidence" linking park and four dead dogs

Douglas County Health Department has "no conclusive evidence" linking park and four dead dogs
Douglas County Health Department has "no conclusive evidence" linking park and four dead dogs 03:21

Four families in Parker's Newlin Meadows neighborhood are now missing their best friend. 

Their dogs all died within two weeks of each other after visiting the same park. They were big dogs, a golden and three labs, and it appears three out of the four were relatively young. Now the neighborhood and the health department are looking into what could have caused this. 

White lab Sophie was the first dog to die. 

"She was a great family dog we had her for 12 years," said Sophie's owner, Joe Madril. 

On a Wednesday morning in Mid-May, Madril let Sophie out in the front yard before work, she briefly wandered into the small park across the street. 

"I went over and grabbed her and put her on a leash and brought her back but that evening when I came home at six, she couldn't get up, she couldn't stand, and her head was tilted," said Madril. 

The next morning the family put her down. 

"We were told it was a seizure and we felt that she had just an age-related issue," said Madril.   

But a week later, Madril saw his neighbor's 5-year-old golden retriever drop dead while running off leash in the park. 

"I saw the dog running and stop and fall over," said Madril, "I ran across the park to see if he was alright, if he needed help, his dog was already dead by the time I got there." 

Later that day, Madril's wife told him two other labs had died of seizures after visiting the park. That's when he started to rethink Sophie's death.

"For at least four dogs to die within a matter of two weeks is very strange," said Madril. 

Madril reported the incident to police, and neighbors reported it to the HOA, who closed the park indefinitely last Friday. 

"Typically this park is full of dogs and kids every afternoon and evening," said Madril. "This is summer break for kids and there's no kids in the park, it's very strange."

Now the park is quiet, and neighbors like Sandy O'Neill are extra cautious while walking their dogs. 

"That's awful. I can't even imagine what would cause such a thing, especially that quickly," said O'Neill. 

While the families who lost their pets are searching for answers. 

"I think I owe it to my dog to find out," said Madril. 

For area neighbors: be extra cautious while walking your dog. Don't let them run off leash or eat things on the ground.  If your pet has been sick contact management and take them to the vet. People who live in the area are also asked to report any unusual activity. 

So what caused the deaths? At this point it seems everything is on the table. 

The Douglas County Health Department is investigating and says they don't have proof the park and the death of the dogs are connected yet. 

The Madril family cremated Sophie before they noticed the pattern, so an autopsy was not done to see what was in her system.  

Douglas County Health says they are looking into whether there was a naturally occurring substance or synthetic toxin found in the park. Plants like blue-green algae can be toxic to pets.  

The HOA has said they've confirmed that landscaping treatments and pesticides are not to blame. 

Sadly, poison is a possibility. However, Madril says his dog did not eat anything in the park. He says the Parker police officer he spoke with said fentanyl may be a possibility because of how fast some of the dogs died.

The Douglas County Health Department provided CBS News Colorado with the following statement: 

"We acknowledge and share in the grief felt by pet parents for the loss of their loved one, as we continue to work with the Newlin Gulch HOA to determine if there is a naturally occurring substance in the park or if the dogs had been exposed to a man-made, synthetic toxin that was ingested there. In the absence of veterinary test results, there is no way to conclusively determine cause of death. We applaud the HOA for their continued diligence and for proactively closing the park until further notice. 

We are continuing to work with the HOA on the journey of discovery re what may have occurred and yet also at this time we still have no conclusive evidence that there is any connection between the park and the deceased dogs." 

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