Two Bernal Heights neighbors say their dogs became ill after visiting Precita Park last week, shortly after City workers applied a chemical to the grass.
In an email to D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Neighbor Linda writes:
Last week, the day that fertilizer was applied to the grass in Precita Park, our dogs started foaming at the mouth and throwing up. My dog became seriously lethargic for 24 hours.
We need to know:
- What fertilizer was used? so that we can tell our veterinarians.
- What is the schedule for applying fertilizer on Precita Park grass and can it be posted in the park?
- How do we stop the use of this/these chemicals in Precita Park?
This must also be dangerous for babies and small children. It couldn’t be healthy for larger children and adults either.
I expect that the rain has diluted the chemicals for now, but Precita Park will get fertilizer again.
In a follow-up note to Supervisor Ronen, Neighbor Roman adds:
My dog Yogi went to the park around the same dates and has gotten very sick. He has been vomiting and foaming at the mouth. Please do advise us the type of fertilizer and if any new type of grass has been used to replace dry spots. We have taken our dog to surrounding parks and not encountered these issues. I will continue to ask other dog owners if they are experiencing similar issues. This is a major concern for us and we are taking this matter very seriously.
Supervisor Ronen says she will follow-up with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to learn more. Bernalwood will provide additional information as it becomes available.
UPDATE: 1:30 pm: Connie Chan from Rec and Park sent this response to Bernalwood:
The Department received feedback including possible concerns about dogs getting sick after visiting Precita Park last week.
Recently, the Department has roped off newly seeded areas in Park as these areas were re-seeded some time ago with standard grass mix, and the grass mix should not have any negative effect on humans and animals, including dogs. We have checked in with our park operations staff about their maintenance activities, and they confirmed that there were no fertilizer applications at the Park for well over a year.
It should also be noted that the Department utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) throughout our park system, which means we minimize any use of herbicide (and no rodenticide or any toxic chemical are allowed) and all herbicide application that meets the SF Environment regulations would be posted at the site for public notice and documented in our records. Here is more info on IPM from SF Environment.
However, with abundance of precaution, we are still looking into our maintenance activities last week and would welcome any input from the public on any incidents that they might have possibly witnessed and believed to be related. At this point, the only other maintenance activity of note that was occurring at the park, was our spring irrigation system tune-up. We will be inspecting the Park this week to see if we can identify any potential hazards that could be related to this incident.
PHOTO: Magic, one of the dogs that recently became ill. Image of Magic shown in Precita Park prior to the sickness incident, courtesy of Neighbor Linda.