Man heartbroken Great Dane died after swimming in 'polluted' sea water

Dog owner is left heartbroken over death of his ‘fit and strong’ 13-month-old Great Dane after he developed lung infection from swimming in ‘polluted’ sea water

  • David Arthur’s Great Dane died after going swimming in ‘polluted’ ocean water
  • The 13-month-old hound had to be put to sleep after developing a lung infection 
  • Odin swam in the sea every day at Hayling Island beach near Portsmouth, Hants 
  • An email showed that vets had pointed to the sea as a likely cause of infection 
  • Southern Water has not accepted responsibility for the Great Dane’s death

A dog owner has been left heartbroken after his ‘fit and strong’ one-year-old Great Dane died after he developed a lung infection from swimming in ‘polluted’ sea water.

David Arthur’s 13-month-old dog Odin went swimming every day at Hayling Island beach near Portsmouth, Hants, but had to be put to sleep after developing a lung infection.

Mr Arthur, 59, from Cowplain, Hants, had already spent £6,000 on treating Odin but vets said the dog’s lungs were too badly damaged from pneumonia, with vets pointing to the sea as a likely cause of infection.

Odin’s illness in September followed a public outcry about sewage being pumped into the sea off the South coast, while Southern Water were fined £90million last July for pouring sewage into the sea. 

Southern Water has not accepted responsibility for the dog’s death and claimed the water quality on Hayling’s beaches was rated ‘excellent’.

David Arthur has been left heartbroken after his 13-month-old dog Odin (pictured) has died after swimming in ‘polluted’ sea water every day

Mr Arthur claimed Southern Water offered to pay him £500 after he told them of Odin’s death, a gesture he described as ‘an insult’.

The road worker said he was told by vets they had ‘never seen anything like it’ after Odin was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, an infection that can be caused by ingesting foreign matter into lungs.

Mr Arthur said he and his hairdresser wife Susan, 69, got Odin when he was eight weeks old after having around 12 Great Dane dogs across 40 years.

He said: ‘We are heartbroken. Odin was a fit and healthy dog – probably the strongest one we’ve had in 40 years.

‘He was absolutely fit as a fiddle, lively, so full of life and in your face.

‘I’ve got other dogs but the difference is that Odin would swim out of his depth in the sea every day. We think pollution has gone into his lung and caused an infection.

Great Dane Odin went swimming every day at Hayling Island beach (pictured) near Portsmouth, Hants, but had to be put to sleep after developing a lung infection

Mr Arthur (pictured), 59, spent £6,000 on treating Odin but vets said the dog’s lungs were too badly damaged from pneumonia, with vets pointing to the sea as a likely cause of infection

‘Other dogs have got ill there. We know of one that had the same as Odin but survived because it was a small breed whereas Odin was so big his lungs couldn’t cope.

‘He was a big dog, a big lump, solid and stocky. When he was stood up he would near enough come up to your waist.’

Mr Arthur said he was told by the vets that dogs who get pneumonia normally survive but said that his lungs were ‘so bad’ that the aspiration pneumonia had turned to bronchial pneumonia.

He continued: ‘It’s such a tragic, needless death and we feel there is someone responsible for it but they are obviously not going to admit that.

‘We did not think about it at the time because we were so upset but a few weeks later we thought about the pollution problems with sewage getting dumped into the sea.

‘We were told by vets he ingested something into his lungs which caused a major infection. After I contacted Southern Water they asked for proof it was aspiration pneumonia which I sent them.

‘They said sorry for the loss of my dog and offered me £500 as a goodwill gesture which I turned down as our vets bills cost £6,000.

‘I think it was an insult really, and them offering me money is admitting liability as far as I’m concerned.’

A spokesman for Southern Water said they did not accept responsibility for the dog’s death and claimed the water quality on Hayling’s beaches was rated ‘excellent’.

But an email Mr Arthur received in October from St Peter’s Vets, Petersfield, where Odin was treated, the sea was referred to as a likely cause of the infection.

Southern Water has not accepted responsibility for the dog’s death and claimed the water quality on Hayling’s beaches was rated ‘excellent’. Pictured: Odin

Mr Arthur said he and his hairdresser wife Susan (pictured), 69, got Odin when he was eight weeks old after having around 12 Great Dane dogs across 40 years

It read: ‘During the course of his illness and treatment none of the other dogs in (Odin’s) household became unwell.

‘The only difference in their walks and activity is that he swam in the sea every day and the concern is that all of his symptoms could have been caused by aspirating sea water.’

The British Veterinary Association president Justine Shotton said: ‘Sea water may contain bacteria even in unpolluted areas so inhalation of any foreign material, including sea water, can lead to aspiration pneumonia in dogs.

‘One way that dog owners can help prevent seawater inhalation is by keeping their pets from swimming in the sea on days when it is very rough.’

It comes after Southern Water was fined a record £90million last July for deliberately pouring sewage into the sea.

The company pleaded guilty to 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges from 17 sites – the equivalent to one pipe leaking continuously for seven years. 

Tonnes of sewage polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex between 2010 and 2015, a court heard at the time.

The total amount of untreated sewage discharged into the environment was somewhere between 16 billion and 21 billion litres. 

A number of locals and organisations had reported pollution and illness during 2021.

Hayling Island Sailing Club member and councillor for Hayling West, Joanne Thomas, said she was ‘inundated’ with letters from residents complaining about raw sewage in the harbours.

Kitesurfer Chris Bull, the founder of CBK Hayling Island Kitesurf School and Club, said his staff and family members often fell seriously ill after being in the water.

Odin’s illness comes after Southern Water were fined £90million last July for pouring sewage into the sea. Pictured: Hayling Island beach in Hampshire

Mr Arthur claimed Southern Water offered to pay him £500 after he told them of Odin’s death, a gesture he described as ‘an insult’. Pictured: Mr Arthur’s wife Susan

In June, Hayling Sewage Watch gathered more than 2,000 signatures from people calling for ‘help to stop Hayling beaches being polluted with untreated sewage’.

Group member Mike Owens said: ‘We know from our own testing and the regular reports of sickness by water users that the seas around Hayling are regularly polluted by water outflows containing untreated sewage.’

In October, the Environment Agency warned people not to get into the water in the area due to an ‘abnormal situation’ after residents reported sanitary products and wet wipes along the beach.

Southern Water insisted there was ‘no evidence’ of pollution in the sea water.

Responding to Odin’s case, a spokesman for Southern Water, said: ‘We’re sorry to learn of the death of Mr Arthur’s dog. 

‘The beaches around Hayling Island have among the highest quality water in the country – tested throughout the summer by the Environment Agency with results published on the Defra website.

‘Some 78 of the 83 beaches in our area are ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ according to the government’s classification and none are below acceptable. 

‘We understand our customers’ concerns over storm releases made to prevent homes from flooding during heavy rain which is why we have launched a task force aiming to cut such storm releases by 80 per cent by 2030.

‘It is impossible to say how Odin caught pneumonia but as a goodwill gesture we offered to pay £500 of vet fees as we always go above and beyond for our customers.’

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