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Dog suffers illness after swimming at contaminated Muskegon beach

Benji, a 2-year-old Australian shepherd, was diagnosed with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis after swimming at Kruse Park.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Wednesday night, a dog is recovering after being in the water at Kruse Park, where tests show a high level level of E. coli. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy announced the park's beach had its highest E. coli levels in the water since 2019.

Two days prior to the announcement, two-year-old Australian shepherd Benji enjoyed swimming at the beach.

"He's high strung, high energy," says Roman Aguilar, Benji's owner with Morgan Ervin. "He's a good dog, though."

After enjoying a Fourth of July swim at the park with his two owners, Benji started to show symptoms the next day.

"She said that he didn't feel good before I got home," says Aguilar. "Kind of started to get a little worried, but my brother-in-law is a vet tech so I called him and got some advice."

The monitored the situation, but it only got worse overnight.

"He woke up puking and that was the first time he puked blood," says Aguilar.

When Benji went outside to the bathroom, things took an even further turn.

"This time it was just straight blood," recalls Aguilar. "It was something I'd never seen before."

They took him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or HGE. Shortly after, they heard the news Kruse Park had high levels of E. coli.

"And dogs can get HGE from E. coli, so I kind of put two and two together," says Aguilar.

The two wish there was better signage at the park warning of the contaminants.

The park remains open to swimmers with a single sign recommending not to enter the water. Roman hopes more people and their dogs don't run into the same issues.

"It was about a $500 vet bill today because we decided to go swimming in some not-so-good water," he says.

EGLE says they will only close Kruse Park if the E. coli levels remain high.

Good news for Benji, his owners say he is already doing better after getting treatment.


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