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THE dog owner who launched the charity to "Stop Alabama Rot" is encouraging people to donate in order to further research on the disease.

Michael Barlow set up the Alabama Rot Research Fun after his beloved Labrador Lulu survived the disease back in 2015.

Lulu, who was just six at the time, contracted the usually fatal disease after being walked near Lymington.

"A friend of mine who was walking her while I was on holiday noticed that she was off her food and subdued and that she had some small legions," said Michael, 50, who used to live in Lymington but now lives in London.

"Having heard the stories about Alabama Rot we wasted no time in taking her to the local vet where she stayed overnight.

"The next day we transferred her to Anderson Moore's near Winchester, as they are the experts when it comes to handling these cases."

According to Michael he was initially told that Lulu probably wasn't going to make it.

"At that point we agreed there maybe nothing to lose in admitting her to the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) Queen Mother Animal Hospital in Hertfordshire, to undergo a non-guaranteed treatment called Plasma Exchange Therapy (PET)," added Michael.

"She underwent two rounds of PET and was kept in the intensive care unit for around three weeks."

Michael made the drive from his home up to the hospital in Hertfordshire every day in order to be by Lulu's side.

"It was a horrible thing to go through but thankfully my dog was able to pull through and survive," he added.

"Lulu was one of the lucky ones but unfortunately the majority of dogs don't get that lucky and it is just awful for them and their owners."

"Having to watch a helpless animal be so ill in hospital is just terrible and I decided that I wanted to try and stop this disease, and its awful impact on dogs and their owners."

After speaking to David Walker, head of medicine at Anderson Moors, Michael decided to launch the Alabama Rot Research Fund - with the sole aim of raising money to fund research into the disease.

"There is still no cause or cure for this awful disease but hopefully if we can raise national awareness and keep research into it well funded then we may be able to get there one day," added Michael.

Earlier this week the Echo reported that Coker Spaniel Maggie had recently died from the disease after being walked in Bearwood, Canford Heath and Verwood forest area.

There have been 86 confirmed cases of Alabama Rot in the UK since 2012.

CRGV, commonly known as Alabama Rot, is a rare but highly dangerous disease. Symptoms begin with skin lesions on the paws or legs and can lead to kidney failure.

Without urgent treatment, dogs develop a raging fever and can eventually die.

For more information about the disease or to donate to the research fund go to arrf.co.uk.