Out of concern for the safety of dogs that visit the Montana Rail Link dog park, the City of Missoula has temporarily closed the park after a puppy that visited the park died of parvovirus.

Supervisor of City County Animal Control Jeff Darrah described what happened to cause the MRL Dog Park to close.

“A dog contracted parvovirus in the park,” said Darrah. “It’s hard to say exactly where the virus came from. Generally it’s transmitted to other dogs through contact with feces. It would be speculation to say the dog contracted the disease at the dog park. It could have been contracted in other places, as well, but because that animal was in the dog park then City Parks and Recreation is taking precautions to mitigate potential parvo in that park.”

Darrah explained that puppies younger than four months are not generally vaccinated since they are protected through nursing from their mother. Once the puppies are weaned it is vital that the animal is vaccinated against the parvovirus as soon as possible.

“The dog park is closed at this point,” he said. “I believe they’re going to treat the ground there with disinfectant bleach later today (Wednesday) and a couple of days later they will treat the ground again with disinfectant bleach.”

Since the parvovirus is contracted through contact with feces, Darrah emphasized the importance of dog owners cleaning up after their animals every time.

“That’s why we hammer on people to pick up their dog waste,” he said. “Other than being unsightly it can carry disease, so we do ask people to pick it up.”

Darrah said once there have been two treatments with disinfectant bleach, he said the MRL Dog Park could be open again within a week.