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Young couple heartbroken after puppy dies following a swim in lake

A heartbroken couple have told how their pet puppy fell seriously ill and died shortly after swimming in water at a Hampshire beauty spot. Hannah May Washington and partner Jordan Shearman had taken their dog Roo out for a daily walk to the Anton Lakes nature reserve in Andover on Saturday, April 20.

But just minutes after their dog went into the water for a swim, tragedy struck. Hannah told WiltshireLive : “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, were 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.”

As the couple neared the end of their walk through the beauty spot, they noticed something amiss. Roo’s eyes appeared droopy. “We figured he had gotten too much water in his eyes from him so we decided to end the walk and return to the car,” said Hannah. On the way home from the lakes, the couple “knew straight away something was wrong” when Roo became extremely agitated and appeared to struggle to stand-up.

They rushed the puppy to nearby 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.”

In the 15 minutes it took the couple to get to the vet, Roo appeared pale and was struggling to breathe. Tragically, the pet’s heart stopped beating and Roo was pronounced dead around 7 o’clock that evening.

Test Valley Borough Council have now told dog owners to keep their pets out of the water at the site while tests are carried out for toxic blue-green algae. According to the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology, blue-green algae can occur naturally in lakes, ponds, canals, rivers and reservoirs and is a type of bacteria that can produce toxic chemicals which are very harmful to people and animals.



How toxic blue-green algae can look

The center said the algae are a particular health risk during the warmer months, when their concentrations increase in the water to form blooms and scums on the surface. The algae can manifest itself to look like green or turquoise wispy paint, green scum or clumps of green particles.

Hannah and Jordan have shared their heart-breaking story in an attempt to warn others about the potential dangers lurking in natural watercourses. “Our worst nightmare had officially happened, our precious, young, baby Roo had lost his life from him, so suddenly,” Hannah said.

“My partner and I 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.”



Strathmore Veterinary Clinic
Strathmore Veterinary Clinic in Andover

Test Valley Borough Cllr Phil North issued a message to residents on May 3 warning other dog owners in the area. He said: “As a fellow dog owner, I was extremely saddened to hear about Roo’s passing from him 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 fresh water 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 symptoms to look out for, 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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