Dog loses lung after contracting fungus from digging in dirt

Michael Lee said he and his wife took Mocha to three different animal hospitals before he was diagnosed with blastomycosis. (Source: WIFR)
Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 10:57 PM CST
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GARDEN PRAIRIE, Ill. (WIFR) - At only three years old, a black lab named Mocha is in the fight of his life after he was diagnosed with an unexpected fungal infection in his lung.

It’s a time of the year when a home is filled with holiday cheer, but one family was faced with fear after they had to choose between life or death for their family dog, Mocha.

“And to go downhill in just a few weeks to the point where we thought we might have to put him down, it’s just unbelievable. We had never heard of this before,” said Michael Lee, one of Mocha’s owners.

Lee says he and his wife Yomaira took Mocha to three different animal hospitals before he was diagnosed with blastomycosis.

“He was a big, happy, 105-pound healthy...happy black lab; star of the family, running around. You know, playing with everyone,” said Lee.

Blastomycosis is a fungal infection in the lungs from breathing in spores from the soil. Once tests came back positive that Mocha had blastomycosis, the family was given two options: remove the lung or put him down.

“He had the will to live, we could see it in his eyes.”

Mocha is normally a playful and energetic dog, but the Lees say he began showing symptoms of a cold. As weeks passed, Mocha wasn’t improving.

“It’s really mysterious how you think he might be doing better on the antibiotics and then at the same night he’s at 50 breaths per minute,” said Lee.

To save Mocha, the Lees had to take a personal loan to cover the surgery—with a cost that took Michael by a surprise.

“I was expecting a couple of hundred dollars to get him back to normal, just to get some antibiotics and get him back to normal,” Lee explained, “But at the end of the day, it was north of $11,000 to get everything done.”

He says that even though paying everything off will be a struggle, they know it was the right decision.

“If I could go back in time I would have probably had them do the blasto-test right away,” said Lee.

23 News reached out to Animal Medical Clinic in Rockford for comment on blastomycosis, but we have not received a response.

The family set up a GoFundMe account to cover medical expenses for Mocha.

Photo of Mocha
Photo of Mocha(wifr)
Photo of Mocha shaved where her surgery was done.
Photo of Mocha shaved where her surgery was done.(wifr)