WILMINGTON, N.C. - A North Carolina dog owner wants to raise awareness after her three pets died following a swim in a pond which contained blue-green algae.
CNN reported Melissa Martin took her west highland white terriers to the pond last Thursday. The dogs began seizing when they returned home, and were taken to an animal emergency room.
They died early Friday.
"What started out as a fun night for them has ended in the biggest loss of our lives," Martin wrote in a Facebook post that has since been shared more than 15,000 times.
Martin said she plans to contact people to ensure warning signs are posted. There was a no trespassing sign near the pond, but Martin said she came from a different direction and didn't see it.
"I will not stop until I make positive change," she said. "I will not lose my dogs for nothing."
According to the website Blue Cross for Pets, blue-green algae is most common in non-flowing fresh water. The algae blooms can produce harmful toxins which stop a dog's liver from functioning properly.
Some algal blooms leave a film of muck on the surface and make the water ruddy, but others are difficult to immediately detect, such as the blooms in the pond where Martin's dogs were exposed.
There's no cure for the poisoning, and exposure nearly always leads to death in dogs. Drinking from a body of water where blue-green algae lurks or licking it off fur can kill a dog within 15 minutes of exposure, according to Blue Cross for Pets, a UK animal charity.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality periodically updates a map of the state where algae blooms have been reported, but in the case that a health notice isn't posted, it's best for humans and pets alike to avoid waters that smell bad or look odd in color or murky, the state's health and human services department said.
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