Editor’s note: The above video is from a recent KVUE report on blue-green algae. Tune in tonight at 10 for this report.
The lure of Austin’s lakes and recreational lifestyle contributes to its growth. But for all the fun and beauty our waterways bring, there is also a danger: toxic algae killing pets.
And it’s not just happening in the summer months.
Back in the summer of 2019, several dogs died after visits to Austin-area lakes, where they ingested blue-green algae. It happened again right after the snowstorms this winter. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) found the same toxic algae in several of the Highland Lakes.
Turns out, it could be a deadly side effect of our booming growth.
Deadly day at the dog park:
A backyard game of fetch brings so much joy, yet so much sorrow for Claire Saccardi. It brings back a flood of memories of what happened two years ago after a quick trip to the dog park at Red Bud Isle.
She was with her golden retriever, Harper, her companion for four years. They were inseparable.
“She was chasing balls and sticks in the lake and coming back,” Saccardi said.
An hour later, back home with Harper, Saccardi realized something was wrong.
“She’s walking down the kitchen aisle and just trips and falls and collapses,” Saccardi said.
She managed to get Harper to the living room, but the dog could not stand up on her own. So, Saccardi rushed her to an emergency vet.
“I remember them coming in and saying, ‘Your baby is not doing well. Can we give her CPS?’ and of course I said yes, but that’s when I knew that it wasn’t going to be okay,” she said. “It was fast.”
Harper died from ingesting toxic blue-green algae, according to the vet. She was one of five dogs to die that summer in Austin.
Then in January, it happened here again. Another dog dead, this time after playing in Lake Travis and ingesting blue-green algae.
“I thought we were the last ones,” Saccardi said.
Brent Bellinger is an environmental scientist senior for the Austin Watershed Department. He performs a lot of the testing on the local lakes.
“I’ve gone out, taken samples from Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake. We did have a hit for that same toxin in Lake Austin by Mansfield Dam, the low water crossing there, but Lady Bird Lake has so far come back negative,” he said.
Blue-green algae are actually a type of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. It typically grows in areas where there are high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen and when water becomes still and warm –…