From Oregon to Maine, from Minnesota to Texas, beloved pets are dying after swimming in lakes and ponds.
Stories are emerging nationwide of dogs who took a dip, and died moments later, and local governments are advising against letting pets swim in bodies of water which may be contaminated with toxic blue-green algae.
In Austin, Texas, three dogs died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake, with the deaths attributed to the cyanobacterial algae blooms being found across the U.S.
Likewise, another family’s three dogs also died after swimming in a North Carolina lake full of blue-green algae earlier this month.
The algae forms when a cold winter gives way to a hot summer, making rivers, ponds and lakes ideal breeding grounds for the bacteria.
“Small children and pets are more susceptible to the algae’s health effects, which can cause asthma-like symptoms if inhaled, or even liver or neurological damage if ingested,” reports Massachusetts local media WWLP.
With reports coming in from all over the country, it’s past time for the public to be aware of the dangerous health hazard infesting U.S. lakes.
This article covers only a few incidents reported this summer from several states, but as additional reports surface on a daily basis it’s important to check with your local government for the latest updates.
“The first dogs that were reported to have died were in Austin, Texas after swimming at the popular Lady Bird Lake,” reports Heavy.com.
So far three dogs have died after swimming at the Red Bud Isle body of water that leads into Lady Bird Lake, which runs through south central Austin.
Austin resident Brittany Stanton documented the sad last moments with her pup “Ollie” after he swam in the lake on August 3.
“He stood on the front of the kayak and would bend down to put one paw in the water to drag as I got us a bit farther from the dock. And then he jumped. And swam. And swam. He would jump off, swim back, have me help him back in the boat and then do it all over again. And again. We had such a wonderful time. My last hour with him that would be filled with happy memories.”
Testing shows the bacteria is currently still present in Town Lake.
Earlier this month, a woman started an initiative to put signs up at bodies of water after documenting on Facebook how her three dogs died from the bacteria following a swim at a Wilmington pond.
“They contracted blue green algae poisoning and there was nothing they could do,” she wrote. “We are gutted.”
After examining one pup exhibiting symptoms, a veterinarian told the woman to bring her other pups in, too — but it was too late.
The veterinarian took a look at Abby, asked about the pond, and told [Melissa] Martin to get her two other dogs into the vet hospital immediately.
By the time Denise made it to the veterinarian’s parking lot, Izzy was “lifeless.”
“I ran Izzy in and I handed her to the vet tech and Denise came in with Harpo and he appeared to be fine but as soon as he got to me, he started seizing,” Martin says. “It was awful.”
Late last month, a woman posted on Facebook that her dog died after swimming in a river located at the Keizer Rapid Park in northwestern Oregon.
“People think because rivers have moving water it can’t happen,” the woman wrote. “Trust me it can happen in rivers and it did. The blooms can break off and [if] your dog touches it in any way it’s deadly, fatal.”
South of Oregon, officials in Lake Tahoe are currently testing waters on the southern shore of the popular tourist destination after a dog died within moments of swimming in the lake.
Clear across the country, researchers at the University of Miami earlier this year documented scores of dolphins and fish that had died after inhabiting waters infested with algae blooms.
The Miami Herald reports:
This past year, nearly 150 dead dolphins turned up in Florida waters after a widespread red tide along the Gulf Coast coincided with freshwater blue-green algae washing down the Caloosahatchee River. The carnage prompted the state’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, to order a task force assembled to tackle damaging blue-green algae blooms just after he took office.
Image of blue-green algae from Port Saint Lucie, Florida, circa July 2016.
Head north, and Morgan Fleming from Georgia also posted that her dog “Arya” tragically passed away on August 10 following a morning at the lake.
“About 30 minutes later on the drive home, we noticed her making weird noises and she threw up and pooped in the car,” the woman described. “We called our vet on the drive and they suggested we take her in. By this point our girl couldn’t even stand… They told us she was in critical condition so we took her to the ER. By the time we got there, she was brain dead… Today was absolutely awful.”
“We lost our fun, loving, and crazy girl to what we can only assume was a lake toxin such as blue green algae,” Fleming wrote on Facebook.
Last month, health officials in Minnesota alerted the public to the health risk in ponds caused by blue-green algae blooms after a dog died swimming in the Foster-Arend Park pond in Rochester, southeast of Minneapolis.
“The MPCA recently received a report of a suspected dog death as a result of exposure to blue-green algae,” the state’s Pollution Control Agency wrote in an advisory. “Although the Department of Health has not confirmed the cause of death, if you are a dog owner, it better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to check water conditions when your dog is playing near lakes or slow-flowing streams.”
Further east, and a woman in Maine claims her dog began having seizures after swimming in a lake, however her precise location is unknown.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WARN
With so many incidents reported from coast to coast, state health officials in places where algae has been detected are warning the public to be on the offensive.
Earlier this month the Rhode Island Department of Health warned tests came back positive for the cyanobacteria in 7 different bodies of water in the state.
All coastal beaches in Mississippi, 21 in total, have been closed due to toxic algae blooms.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued advisories Tuesday warning the public to be on the lookout for blue-green algae, despite not receiving reports so far.
Health officials issued a “know before you go” warning to anyone visiting Ohio beaches after the algae was found in elevated levels at two different places.
This list is by no means meant to be all-inclusive. Pet owners should check local news reports and social media, and consult local health authorities before allowing their pets to swim in natural bodies of water which they suspect may contain the deadly bacteria.
The good news is the blooms will dissipate as fall approaches.
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