Three dogs – two of the three were only pups – have tragically died in North Carolina after then went for a swim in a toxic, algae-infested pond. The tragedy occurred Thursday evening after Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz took their three dogs Abby, Izzy, and Harpo out to a pond in Wilmington reported CNN. Abby, a white West Highland Terrier, began to have seizures only fifteen minutes after leaving the pond.
Naturally, she was rushed to the local vet hospital. Within minutes of arrival, the other two dogs began to show similar signs of discomfort. Izzy, who is also a Westie, also began to seize. The two terriers, unfortunately, took a turn for the worst. Very quickly after, 6-year-old therapy dog Harpo went into seizure convulsions and was showing rapid signs of liver failure. The veterinary clinic did the best they could to revive them, but unfortunately, all three of the dogs passed away by midnight that Friday.
The veterinarian confirmed it was the blue-green toxic algae in the pond which had caused all three dogs to die of liver failure. Melissa Martin had failed to spot the algae, but the vet assured her that what she’d mistaken for flower debris was actually the algae called cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are technically not algae, but organisms. They’re only called algae because of their appearance since they clump together in water like algae. Cyanobacteria is quite a common occurrence in summertime.
The Department of Health and Human Services warns, “Small numbers of cyanobacteria can explosively grow into large numbers very quickly. This rapid increase is called a bloom. The bloom can become harmful to people, pets, livestock, and aquatic plants and animals by producing toxins, shading light, and clogging gills in fish. Toxins produced by cyanobacteria can affect the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and nervous system of people, pets, livestock, and other animals. Children and dogs are the most vulnerable to the effects of cyanobacterial toxins. Dogs are especially susceptible to cyanotoxins that attack the nervous system.”
We’re both looking a little scraggly, so it’s BFF spa day. Doggie spa for Harpo, grown up spa for me. We’ll meet back up this afternoon, buddy & I know you’ll be super handsome!Posted by Melissa Martin on Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Melissa said, “What started out as a fun night for them has ended in the biggest loss of our lives.”
She put in a Facebook post. “At 12:08 AM, our dogs crossed the rainbow bridge together. They contracted blue-green algae poisoning and there was nothing they could do. We are gutted. I wish I could do today over. I would give anything to have one more day with them. Harpo and I had work to do.”
The pond, which sits right next to the walking trail, did not have any signs or warnings about the toxic algae. Now, Melissa is determined to caution other dog owners about the dangers that are in the North Carolina pond.
“I will not stop until I make a positive change. I will not lose my dogs for nothing,” she said.
Melissa has also opened up about plans to write a book about her 6-year-old therapy dog Harpo, saying, “We will carry on in his memory and we will make sure every standing body of water has a warning sign. I was working on our book and planned for us to meet Robin Roberts and Ellen Degeneres and hear how awesome he is. He won’t get the chance to be a part of that, but I will make sure this book is finished,” wrote Martin.
A gofundme page has been created in order to help raise awareness regarding toxic algae and to pay for warning signs to be erected around bodies of water that contain the blue-green algae.
“You may notice dead fish in ponds or lakes with a high concentration of the toxic bacteria. Don’t let your dog drink from water containing dead animals. Sadly, exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal, and can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water. Some types of blue-green algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water,” warns Blue Cross.