A Port Alberni family is heartbroken and warning others after a carefree trip to the beach turned fatal for their family pet.
The dog contracted Cryptococcus after inhaling a deadly fungus on Qualicum Beach. One that has already claimed many people and pets lives in recent years. Yet “Azna’s” owners say they had no idea the threat was even there.
Surrounded by family, Lorraine Kimola is still heartbroken on Mother’s day. Her beloved and healthy young dog, “Azna” is suddenly gone from her side.
“The prognosis wasn’t good that she would make it so we made the decision to let her go,” says the Port Alberni resident.
After a carefree trip to the idyllic sandy playground of Qualicum Beach led to the year old rescue dog inhaling a deadly fungus that brought on respiratory distress, then blindness within days. A threat Azna’s owners say they didn’t even know existed.
“It’s out there and if they want to take the chance that’s their choice but at least have the choice,” says Lorraine Kimola.
“There is an invisible danger to their pets,” says her husband, Victor Kimola.
The Kimola’s have since learned about Cryptococcus, and how it’s appearance on the East coast of Vancouver Island in 1999 has since affected dozens of both people and pets. At least 19 people have died. But they say it took taking “Azna” to three vets before she was properly diagnosed.
So they want people to be aware that if they come home and start displaying allergy like symptoms, breathing resembling snorting and trouble seeing, to seek help for an illness that’s clearly been off a lot of people’s radar.
“I’ve lived in this area for 50 years. “And you’ve never heard of it?” No,” says Gord Garriock.
Garriock should have. He is as local as they come and a dog owner.
“I live just eight houses away and haven’t heard of it. “Does that concern you?” Yeah absolutely. I’d like to know more about it,” he says.
And sadly more people are. The hard way.
“The vet told us that there’s been four in the past month,” says Lorraine Kimola.
So Anza’s owners hope warning signs will soon go up on beaches from Nanaimo to Qualicum Beach where crypto has appeared, and where now only fishery notices warn against eating shellfish.
So that others don’t find themselves with heartbreak after a holiday that they never even knew was possible.