EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Watch Out for PSP: Dogs Can Get Sick, Too

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

A local puppy survived a brush with paralytic shellfish poisoning after eating “beach snacks” off Sitka National Historical Park’s beach Sunday.

The 11-week-old border collie, Rosie, has a history of munching on various inter-tidal animals, said her owner, Maggie Dunlap.

“She loves to eat beach snacks, and I haven’t had a problem with it until now,” Dunlap told the Sentinel.

She said that within an hour of the trip to the beach, Rosie was lethargic, vomiting, and incontinent.

“After a little while we realized that she was not out of character, being a weirdo. Something was wrong,” Dunlap said.

She called the Sitka Animal Hospital and spoke with Dr. Toccoa Wolf.

“What I was describing was a textbook answer for what those answers would be from shellfish poisoning,” Dunlap said.

Wolf said that anyone who suspects shellfish poisoning in their dog should contact a veterinarian.

“If you suspect your pet has consumed toxic shellfish, or they are exhibiting symptoms after a visit to the beach, your best course of action is to contact your veterinarian. Many different toxins and diseases can mimic PSP and your veterinarian can best determine what response is appropriate... Treatment and recovery can depend on the individual animal and can be as minimal as observation and waiting for symptoms to subside but some severe cases can require hospitalization,” Wolf wrote in an email to the Sentinel.

Rosie, an 11-week-old border collie, became ill after eating a “beach snack.” (Photo provided)

She noted that signs of PSP can manifest within an hour of exposure and range from drooling and unstable walking to vomiting and paralysis.

A person died of PSP earlier this month after eating mussels and snails from a Dutch Harbor beach, the Department of Health and Human services stated in a July 15 release. DHSS said that this was the state’s fifth PSP human fatality.

“The most important thing is not to panic,” Wolf said. “PSP is a risk to be aware of but doesn’t mean your dog can’t have fun playing on the beach. If your dog is prone to eating shellfish on the beach, keeping them on a leash would be advised.”

Fortunately for Dunlap and for Rosie, the poisoning did not last long.

“She was totally normal after six hours,” Dunlap said.

She added that she knew about PSP, but discounted it as a risk for canines.

“I knew about it for people, but I’ve had dogs in Sitka my whole life and I had no idea it could affect dogs. I guess it makes sense, but I had never thought of it,” Dunlap said. 

She suspected that Rosie consumed a number of small crabs on the beach. The State Division of Environmental Health warns against eating the viscera of a crab, as that part of the animal can contain PSP.

The Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR) Lab warns about the dangers of PSP, saying on their website that the “toxins can temporarily  paralyze  you,  causing  death  in  serious  cases  by  making  it  impossible  to  breathe.  Early  symptoms  include  numbness  and  tingling  in  your  lips  and  fingertips.”

Wolf recommended keeping a close eye on animals when on a beach.

“Keep a close eye on your dog when walking on the beach and discourage them from eating shellfish they find, no matter how tempting it may be,” Wolf said.

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.

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