Texas Woman Shares Horrific Story of Dog Dying After Swimming in River
She's hoping her story will warn others of this deadly algae.
Tamra Massey recently took her three-year-old toy Australian Shepherd, Fina, swimming in the Guadalupe River. Fina has swum dozens of times in her life and absolutely loves it. Something wasn't right after being in the water. She didn't know what was wrong, but something was definitely wrong.
After getting Fina out of the water, she began having seizures. Tamara then rushed Fina to the vet and on the way had multiple seizures. An hour later, Fina was gone. “It was so fast. 15 minutes she was out of the water, and that’s when we noticed the first signs, probably 25 minutes total until we got to the vet, and she was all but gone then,” Tamara said.
Turns out Fina ingested some blue-green algae, which is a deadly toxin to animals. Dr. Murl Bailey with the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine said if a dog ingests the algae, it can be fatal. “Some of the toxins that affect the nervous system are very fast-acting, and if the animal drinks it in, it can be dead in a minute or two,” he said.
Many dogs don't actually eat the algae in the water. Typically, they swim through it, getting it on their coat. Once out of the water they lick themselves to get clean and that is when they ingest the algae. The thing that isn't good, you can't just see this deadly algae.
“You can't just look at water and say, ‘oh, it's got blue-green algae in it’ because it may be completely clear, but the toxin is still there,” Murl Bailey said. “The algae have gone away and have left the chemical, and so we just don't know until it's too late.” The algae can get humans sick but it's not deadly to them.
Massey said she reported her dog’s death to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and they came immediately and tested the water.
In a statement, the TCEQ said, in part:
“Field parameters consisting of dissolved oxygen, pH, and specific conductivity were measured. The monitoring results did not indicate a concern for water quality impairment based on these parameters. Healthy aquatic life was observed and impacts from regulated activities or discharges were not observed.
In this instance, local jurisdictions may voluntarily provide public notice or closure based on water quality at high recreational-use areas."
Massey said her homeowner’s association placed signs on the riverbanks warning pet owners about the dangerous algae. She says she doesn't want to talk about her dog's death anymore but hopes this story can prevent this from happening to another pet.