The Whanganui District Council is warning dog owners to keep pets away from a popular park after a dog died of unknown causes following a visit to the area.

The dog had visited the Otamatea Reserve and the walkway which connects the reserve with Rotokawau and the Virgina Lake area. The Wanganui Dog Obedience Club is based out of Otamatea Reserve.

"We have some sad news about a dog which has died after visiting Otamatea Reserve and the walkway which connects the reserve with Rotokawau," the council posted on its Facebook page.

"We are unsure of the cause of death, but Massey University is currently doing some tests and we are in contact with the owner. The Council has not placed any bait or spray in that area.


"We are thinking about the owner at this tough time and wouldn't like to see any other dogs affected.

"We strongly advise dog owners to either keep away from these areas for the time being, or keep their dogs on a leash."

The council was in contact with the owners of the dead dog and warnings had been put out.

"We have put signs up at Otamatea Reserve warning people that a dog who visited the park has died and to avoid the area or keep dogs on a leash," a council spokesperson said.

"Parks Team Leader Wendy Bainbridge has also been up to Otamatea and warned people walking their dogs."

About three months ago, the Whanganui Chronicle reported several dogs had fallen ill after being walked at Otamatea Reserve.

One of the dogs that fell ill was taken to Massey University for testing but the results were never made public.

The council says on that occasion it wasn't in contact with the owners of the dog and therefore could not ask permission for the results of the tests. It says it hopes to be able to share what happened to the dog that has died.


There were concerns the illness that struck dogs in July was related to rat poison and that it could have come from a nearby rest home.

But, that was denied by Philip Tebbutt, who owns the Virginia Lodge Rest Home next door to Otamatea Reserve. He said his organisation had never used rat bait.

Tebbutt said it was more likely that if rat bait had made its way to Otamatea Reserve it would have come from one of the households surrounding the park.