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Danny Watts launches 100-mile run through New Forest for Alabama rot research in memory of dog Rocco



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A DEVOTED animal lover is set to run over 100 miles in 24 hours to remember his dog Rocco who died from Alabama rot following a walk in the New Forest.

Danny Watts will take on the run to fund research into the little-known and often fatal condition.

He will be joined in the challenge by his father-in-law Kevin Harriman, from Everton, who will cycle with a support buggy.

Danny and Rocco
Danny and Rocco

Kevin, who is also chair of governors at Priestlands School, has been preparing for the challenge using simulation videos and an indoor practice bike. The pair will pass through the New Forest today (Friday) to mark the first anniversary of Rocco’s death. They will take in Fordingbridge, Fritham, Nomansland and Plaitford as part of the route from Danny’s home in Aylesbeare, Devon, to the Anderson Moores veterinary clinic in Winchester.

Danny recalled: “We travelled to the New Forest to walk Rocco with family on Boxing Day 2020, where he spent a lovely day running in muddy puddles and playing in the Forest.

“Over the course of the next few days we walked local to home in Aylesbeare, Devon, and noticed he became lame, resulting in some pain relief after a trip to the vets.

“With the pain killers appearing to work we took a nice walk on New Year’s Day. The following day we noticed Rocco had a skin lesion on his pad, which we thought was from consistent licking after doing too much the day before on his poorly foot.”

But Rocco deteriorated further. Danny took him to several emergency vet appointments before the much-loved Labrador was diagnosed with kidney failure caused by Alabama rot and referred to Anderson Moores, the UK’s leading specialist in the condition.

Danny recalled: “By this point we knew there was minimal hope. We dropped everything and made what felt like a very long, three-hour journey where he spent the next two days fighting for his life. But unfortunately it was too late.”

Rocco was the 254th confirmed case since 2012, with a further 27 cases reported in 2021. There is currently no cure for Alabama rot and little is known about the cause of the horrific disease.

Danny added: “The Alabama Rot Research Fund charity are working hard to find out more about the disease where 85% of cases prove fatal, affecting dogs of any age, sex and breed.

“Over the last three years, more cases have been between November and May suggesting a possible winter and spring seasonality, but no cause is known.”

So far the pair have received over £1,000 in sponsorship. Donate at www.gofund.me/79065108



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