Dog dies after falling into lake filled with toxic algae

CHIMACUM, Wash. (KCPQ/CNN) - A family in Washington State is warning others about the threat of toxic algae after their dog died when it fell into a lake.

Clue died on Mother’s Day after falling into Anderson Lake in Chimacum, Wash. Michael Moore, the father of the dog's owner, is now warning others of the dangers of blue-green algae. (Source: KCPQ/CNN)

Michael Moore and his family spent Mother's Day taking in the calm serenity of Anderson Lake but that peace was shattered after his daughter's new dog slipped into the lake that's teaming with dangerous toxic bacteria.

"That exposure, and whatever water she got in her mouth, within thirty seconds or less was enough to kill that dog," Moore said.

They rushed Clue to a vet for help but she didn’t survive.

Two other dogs also died at the lake in 2006 after being exposed to the toxic blue-green algae.

"Even licking some of the water off somebody's coat is enough to cause symptoms,” said Dalton Webb, a veterinarian. “And if they do come down with symptoms or have had exposure, the frequency at which they are going to be successfully treated is very, very low."

The county health department closed the lake to all swimmers, boaters and fishing in early May due to the toxin.

The agency tests the water weekly and at last check, the lake is testing 5,000 times higher than the state health department allows.

And while the boat launch is taped off and warning signs alert visitors,
Moore believes the state parks department should do more to inform people of the dangers.

"State parks acts like they've done their job by putting signs up telling people, 'no boating, swimming or fishing,'" Moore said.

In response, the state parks department plans to install more signage around the lake, adding in a statement they plan to “increase the number of warning signs, adding bi-lingual signs, international symbol for toxic exposure potential, and we are making sure those signs include specific warnings to pet owners to keep them out of the lake and harm's way.”

Moore wants other pet owners to pay close attention and is warning that small children could also be at risk if exposed.

Meanwhile, the veterinarian says Anderson Lake isn’t the only potential source for the deadly toxin. The danger could also be lurking in your own neighborhood.

“Bird baths or garden containers or fountains,” Webb said. “If that water is sitting for months and in hot weather, you can grow that stuff at home and you can have exposure that way as well."

The Jefferson County Health Department said it will keep testing the water and will not reopen the lake until it's deemed safe.

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