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Couple’s warning to all dog owners this summer after puppy dies following walk

Two dog owners have sounded the alarm about dangerous algae after the death of their puppy.

Roo the Cocker Spaniel sadly died shortly after a recent walk at Anton Lakes in Hampshire where it is suspected the substance, which is deadly to dogs, may be present.

The local council has advised dog walkers to keep their pets out of the water as it is tested for blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae is found in freshwater like lakes, ponds, canals, rivers and reservoirs.

The bacterium produces toxic chemicals that are very harmful to the health of people and animals, according to the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH).

Owner Hannah May Washington told Wiltshire Live that after taking Roo to the lake for his daily walk on April 30, little did her and boyfriend Jordan Shearman know that they would be returning without their beloved puppy.



Blue green algae naturally occurs in bodies of freshwater

They said: “We have taken Roo to the lakes many times before, but not so much recently, and did notice that a lot of the areas he would usually swim, was incredibly dirty, much more so than normal, so we didn’t spend so much time swimming in those areas, however he did jump in briefly for a lot of them.”

Anton Lakes is a popular dog walking spot situated just north of Andover, and has both a river and lake within its nature reserve.

The walk seemed to be going completely fine until the young couple noticed towards the end of their walk that Roo’s eyes became a little droopy.

Regarding blue-green algae, UKCEH says: “They are particularly a health risk during warm summer months when their concentrations increase in the water to form blooms and scums on the surface. This can look like green or turquoise wispy paint, green scum or clumps of green particles.”

The couple said: “We figured he had gotten too much water in his eyes so we decided to end the walk and return to the car.”

On the way home, Hannah says they knew straight away something was wrong.

Roo was extremely agitated, and struggling to stand up so they rushed him to Strathmore Veterinary Clinic.

“While in my arms, Roo began to have fits, struggling to breathe, foaming at the mouth. It was the worst experience of my life having to hold him, speaking to him, telling him mummy and daddy loved him,” she said.



An aerial view of toxic blue-green algae bloom on the Baltic Sea coast at Tyreso near Stockholm, Sweden, June 25, 2020.
Toxic blue-green algae is particularly a health risk during warm summer months

In the 15 minutes the journey to the vets took, Roo had become pale, and was not breathing on his own.

His heart stopped beating and he unfortunately passed away at around 7pm.

Hannah said: “Our worst nightmare had officially happened, our precious, young, baby Roo had lost his life, so suddenly.

“Me and my partner are only 23 and 24, and we have just celebrated a year in our first home together, and a year with what can only be described as our first child in Roo.

“He was everything in our lives, quite literally. Our lives, our habits, our plans revolved around our lovely pup, and so I can’t even begin to describe the pain we are in.”

The couple want to share their story as a warning to all dog walkers in Andover, that Anton Lakes is potentially dangerous and to avoid that location until further notice.

Cllr Phil North put out a message to residents on May 3 to warn dog owners of the council’s suspicions.

He said that they had received a report of a dog sadly passing away and asked locals to “please keep dogs out of the water”.

In an official statement, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councilor Phil North, said: “As a fellow dog owner, I was extremely saddened to hear about Roo’s passing following a walk at Anton Lakes.

“Although no cause of death has been confirmed with the council, following feedback from the vet we are taking a precautionary approach and are working with the Environment Agency to test the water for blue-green algae.

“This algae occurs naturally in bodies of freshwater but can be potentially dangerous to people and their pets. We are hoping to receive the results of the tests by the end of next week, and while we await the outcome, we are recommending that people and pets stay out of the water.

“Residents and pet owners can find out more about blue-green algae and its effects via the kennel club website.”

According to the Kennel Club, the effects of blue-green algae on dogs may vary but there are some recognized effects including:

  • dribbling
  • tiredness
  • vomiting and diarrhea (both of which may be bloody)
  • effects on the heart and blood pressure
  • convulsions
  • breathing problems
  • organ failure

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