Modesto dog park closed after toxic substance found

A highly poisonous fluid was found mixed into a large puddle of rainwater at a Modesto dog park last week, prompting a temporary closure.

The Modesto Fire Department responded to the dog park at 601 Morris Avenue on Thursday. Upon testing the water, firefighters learned it contained antifreeze, which can be lethal to people and animals if ingested.

Antifreeze poses a particular danger to dogs, as they find it sweet tasting. It’s highly toxic, causing kidney failure shortly after ingestion. A tiny amount is extremely dangerous.

The Fire Department contacted city environmental services staff, who made the decision to close the park until it is deemed safe, said Modesto spokeswoman Diana Ruiz-Del Re.

A company was called in to remove the contaminated water, the engineered wood bark under it and some of the soil under that, said Ruiz-Del Re. A soil sample was taken and sent to a lab for testing, the results of which are expected late this week.

If the soil sample is clean, the city will need to order new engineered wood bark to replace what was dug up. Weather permitting, that would take a few days, Ruiz Del-Re said.

If the soil sample is contaminated, more needs to be dug out and a new sample taken, a process that would take at least another week.

The city will post an update on its Parks, Recreation & Neighborhoods Facebook page when the park reopens.

Ruiz-Del Re said it is unclear how the antifreeze got into the park. There is currently no criminal investigation related to the incident and there have been no reports of animals that became sick or died after visiting the park.

In this file photo, dog owners arrive for an informational meeting at the Modesto Dog Park.
In this file photo, dog owners arrive for an informational meeting at the Modesto Dog Park.