Toxic algae kills dog, spurs state park to review signage

CHIMACUM, Wash. – One Puget Sound family is warning others about the dangers of toxic algae after their dog died only hours after merely falling into a Jefferson County lake.

It happened on Mother’s Day at Anderson Lake State Park. The dog’s owner insists her pet was on a leash the entire time.

Michael Moore says his daughter’s new dog named Clue wasn’t running around wild, instead she slipped off the trail and into the lake, which was teaming with blue-green algae.

Within minutes Clue got sick – and veterinarians say the toxin isn’t just dangerous for people, it’s usually fatal for pets and livestock.

“We think maybe even one or two licks of the water, even licking some of the water off somebody’s coat,” said local veterinarian Dalton Webb. “If they have symptoms or have had exposure, the frequency at which they are going to be successfully treated are very low.”

While the park already placed warning signs in multiple locations at the park and roped off the boat launch, the incident has spurred the state agency to re-think its signage telling Q13 News in a statement it plans to review its procedures.

“State Parks staff work closely with the Jefferson County Health Department, which monitors the toxin levels in the lake. Year round, we provide informational postings about the danger posed from the algae to people and pets on the Park information board near the main entry to the property. As soon as the lake passes the recreation threshold for toxic exposure potential, we post warning signs at the boat ramp, provide a caution-tape barrier ahead of the boat ramp to keep people from launching boats. We post other areas in the parks with warnings."

"In addition, we post an alert on the Park’s webpage notifying people of the danger. Further, we make sure that the Park host volunteers are informed, and we ask them to notify park visitor of the dangers from the toxic algae bloom.

We are currently assessing the Park 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.  We are also looking at other potential entry points to the property to make sure there are signs warning people as to the danger posed to them and their pets.”

Meanwhile Webb says the toxic algae usually forms in stagnant, warm water and sometimes it can thrive in areas around homes.

“Bird baths or garden containers or fountains,” he 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.”

 

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