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Lee's Summit woman warns others after her dog dies from contact with blue-green algae at Catclaw Lake

Dog died from algae exposure
Posted at 6:33 PM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 19:33:12-04

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — A Lee's Summit woman is warning other pet owners to be on the lookout for dangerous algae after her dog died earlier this month.

“We did everything together. She went on every car ride when it was cool enough and we walked everyday," Michelle Robinson. "We went to every walking place in Lee’s Summit."

Robinson's dog Maggie, died after a trip to Catclaw Lake at James A. Reed wildlife area in early September.

“There were some foggy spots, and I would not allow her to go to those foggy, murky spots and I would lead her to places where the water was clear," Robinson said. "It was just for aesthetic reasons more than a fear of what eventually happened to her.”

Robinson said after their trip, Maggie started throwing up. Eventually, the dog was rushed to the emergency pet hospital where she died.

Robinson said veterinarians told her blue-green algae was likely the reason for the dogs death.

According to Dr. Tina Wismer, senior director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, dogs who consume water with blue-green algae can experience a number of health issues.

"It can cause severe neurologic or liver damage," Wismer said. "Signs of blue-green algae toxicity include seizures, panting, excessive drooling, respiratory failure, diarrhea, disorientation, vomiting, liver failure and ultimately death."

Wismer said prevention is key, but how does the blue-green algae form?

Lynn Milberg, with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said it's a type of bacteria made up of natural nutrients.

When those nutrients are combined with human activity like fertilizer, it could grow fast. Milberg added weather plays a part as well.

"They tend to like the warmer temperatures," Milberg said. "They tend to like the drier times where you don’t have rain putting fresh water into the system and flushing the system out."

A sign warning of algae and its negative impact on humans and animals is posted at Catclaw Lake.

Robinson said she didn't see a sign when she went there with her dog and adds she would've been looking for warning signs.

“Keep you dogs out of unknown sources of water," she said. "There’s a good chance they could be contaminated with algae."

Meanwhile, Robinson also has a message for other pet owners who share her grief.

“Don’t blame yourself, cause there’s nothing you could’ve done about it" Robinson said. "Your dog was having a great time and doing the things that it loved. So knowing nothing about this, you can’t really torture or blame yourself for what happened."