A young Co Armagh mum has spoken of her heartbreak after her puppy died after swimming in a local lake.
Natalie McVeigh (32) revealed her 16 month old Labrador Bella had been out for a walk around Craigavon Lakes on the Tannaghmore Gardens side when she jumped in for a swim last Thursday.
However soon after Bella took very ill, with severe vomiting and diarrhoea and was passing blood. She was also very lethargic and couldn’t walk.
Natalie, who has an 11 week old baby girl, said: “I had thought she had maybe eaten something and took her to the vet who helped her with pain relief.
“He said he had seen many cases like this before and was very sure it was caused by algae poisoning.”
Bella died on Monday, four days after taking ill.
Natalie, who lives in Derrytrasna, said she and her husband are devastated. “It has been awful. Bella just loved the water and I had never heard of algae poisoning before. I think there should be signs to warn dog owners.
“I am so glad we have the baby to keep us distracted from it all,” she said.
“If highlighting this saves just one dog, it will be a job well done.”
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council was contacted by a local councillor who said it had agreed to test the water ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Sinn Fein Cllr Catherine Nelson said: “Upon receiving the devastating news that a much loved family pet has died following a swim in Craigavon Lakes I immediately contacted council officers.
“The vet believes the death was caused as a result of algae poisoning.
“Council have agreed to test the lake as a matter of urgency. In the meantime I would ask dog owners to keep their pets out of the water.”
In an updated press release, she said: “Officers have been out to carry out inspections at the Lakes. All Watersports are safe to go ahead.
“Whilst the conditions this summer have not been favourable to large algae blooms there are still some risks involved so caution should be exercised for pets.”
A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said: “The lakes are inspected daily during the summer months and were inspected on Monday 22 July and Tuesday 23 July, and no issue with blue-green algae was identified.
“The council’s treatment regime combined with the unfavourable conditions for large algae blooms i.e. intermittent rain, fresh winds, low sunshine and moderate temperatures has resulted in the lake being in good condition all year.
“Council has also requested a further sample to be undertaken by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) as an additional measure.
“In line with normal protocol, if an issue with blue-green algae was identified, information would be communicated to residents and visitors to advise them not to swim or to allow their dogs to swim or drink in that particular location by putting up signs and issuing posts on social media.”
Many dogs enjoy swimming in lakes and ponds may be exposed to blue-green algae.
Signs of poisoning depend on the toxin. Microcystins can result in liver damage or failure. Signs of liver injury include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in stool or black, tarry stool, weakness, pale mucous membranes, jaundice, seizures, disorientation, coma, and shock. Death generally follows within days as a result of liver failure.