Blue-Green Algae is Killing Pets

It’s fairly common in freshwater lakes and waterways, but blue-green algae can be lethal. This pet owner is warning others about the toxic substance that killed her dog, Harper.

Dangers of toxic cyanobacteria

This summer, national attention is being drawn to a new danger to man’s best friend: blue green algae. Claire Saccardi had never heard of it until after a trip to a local lake led to the death of her dog, Harper. Harper and several other dogs across the U.S. have died from exposure to cyanobacteria — a freshwater alga that produces oxygen but can be highly toxic to wildlife pets even humans based on reports from the ASPCA. Swimming in water with cyanobacteria can cause severe neurologic and liver damage. It can be difficult to spot.

“She died on a Thursday night. I went back to the park that same week Saturday and there were hundreds of people there; there were a line of cars there. And I just felt like a horror movie because dogs are best friends for many people, and nobody wants to lose their perfectly healthy dog. It's not always toxic and that it tends to thrive when it's been hot. The water flow is low and water systems are clear meaning the sunlight can get down to the bottom because that's where it grows at the bottom of lakes. they get bigger and bigger and then a break not from the bottom and float to the top which is what is called a bloom. And so what can happen is these as they bloom they can break apart and release the bacteria that they contain into the water,” said former dog owner Claire Saccardi.

Toxic cyanobacteria thrive under warm and sunny weather conditions. Saccardi says that not enough Americans are informed about the health risks of our waterways. States like Florida have seen legislation approved for studying and eradicating toxic cyanobacteria in waterways according to the Committee on Science, Space, Technology. But Saccardi says she hopes no one else has to go through what she had to. Harper had to be the guinea pig. I hate what Harper had to go through, but I would hate even more for that to happen and for nothing to change.