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Three dogs die from toxic algae after swimming in North Carolina pond

13 August 2019

Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz took their dogs, West Highland White Terriers Abby and Izzy and doodle Harpo to cool off in a pond in Wilmington on Thursday night. We need your prayers.

Blue-green algae, the kind that led to the death of these three dogs, "can produce two types of toxins, microcystins and anatoxins", reports VCA Hospitals.

"At 12:08 a.m., our dogs crossed the rainbow bridge together, "Melissa Martin wrote in a Facebook post".

Their three dogs - Abby, Izzy, and Harpo - had to be put down after swimming in a pond in Wilmington.

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Both of the toxins act fast and cause severe health problems that can lead to death hours, and sometimes minutes, after a dog accidentally ingests algal bloom water. The couple drover her to the emergency room, and unfortunately, she passed away there. Nitrogen and phosphorus enter bodies of water as a result of human activities, such as agriculture, imperfect wastewater systems, fossil fuels, fertilizers, and the use of soaps and detergents containing those nutrients.

11Alive spoke with Dr. Mark Aubel, Analytical Chemist and President of Greenwater Laboratories, who recently conducted a study on toxic blue-green algae's affect on dogs.

Immediate medical intervention is required for animals exposed to the algae.

"There are only a handful of public health agencies that have the capacity to do testing for blue-green algae", said LaLiberte. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are "primitive", photosynthetic organisms that can feed off the sun to make their own energy and release oxygen and possibly toxins in the process, said David G. Schmale III, a professor at Virginia Tech.

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Martin and Mintz go on to promise in the post that they would begin an initiative to set signs up near bodies of water that are contaminated with the deathly algae, and have created a GoFundMe page to raise money to do so. Her $2,000 goal has already been met, with more than $3,400 raised as of Monday afternoon, August 12.

They told CNN they thought the cyanobacteria they saw in the pond was flower blooms.

"Anytime you see really discolored green water, if you see scums or mats or floating clumps of algae, keep your dogs out, because you can't tell if blue-green algae blooms are making toxins", adds LaLiberte. According to the EPA, symptoms to look out for in your dog include diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, staggering, drooling, trouble breathing, convulsions, and seizures. If your dog has already gotten into a harmful bloom, rinse your pet off immediately in fresh, clean water.

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Three dogs die from toxic algae after swimming in North Carolina pond