Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman Says Trip to Pond Killed Her 3 Dogs After They Contracted Blue-Green Algae Poisoning


A North Carolina family is mourning the loss of all three of their dogs who died on the same night after being poisoned by a hidden danger lurking in a local swimming hole.

One hot summer evening, three dog siblings, Abby, Izzy and Harpo, were bounding happily in a pond in Wilmington, North Carolina. They splashed and frolicked, excited to be out and about with their owners, Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz.

But the playful evening was short-lived, as Abby, a West Highland white terrier, began to have a seizure shortly after they left, WTKR reported.

Martin rushed Abby to the veterinarian and watched helplessly as the dog began to rapidly decline. Both fur siblings soon followed, presenting the same concerning symptoms as Abby.

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Shortly after midnight, all three pups were dead.

Martin and Mintz, devastated, soon learned that the dogs had been exposed to poisoning from blue-green algae that had been in the pond where the dogs played.

“We are gutted. I wish I could do today over,” Martin wrote on Facebook. “I would give anything to have one more day with them.”

Did you know blue-green algae could be fatal to dogs?

According to Blue Cross for Pets, blue-green algae (which is not algae at all, but bacteria) is not always visible to the naked eye, but exposure to it is often fatal for pets as the bacteria overwhelms the liver, causing it to shut down. In some cases, blue-green algae can kill a dog within just 15 minutes of exposure, the website stated.

While Martin and Mintz know they cannot change the past, they can try to make a difference for future dog-loving families.

“Our dogs were everything,” Martin and Mintz told WECT. “We had two Westies, they were both therapy certified. And then we had Harpo — he was going to be seven this year. He did a lot of stuff in the community. I mean we just took them here last night and let them play and it ended up in all three of them dying because of something called blue green algae that we’ve never even heard of.”

“People need to know about this,” Martin said. “Like I said, if we had any clue this was ever a thing we would have never come. We had no idea. And once we got to the emergency vet last night they also weren’t sure.”

“They kind of thought maybe that’s what it was but we had to spend time on the phone with poison control,” she continued. “We ended up losing all three of them within just a few hours.”

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The two women are taking action, launching a public campaign to make sure warning signs are posted near bodies of water that might contain the toxic bacteria.

“We are now on a mission to put signs at every body of water that can have this deadly bacteria,” Martin wrote on Facebook.

With each sign that goes up, Martin and Mintz may feel a slice of comfort in knowing their family’s tragedy is protecting others from experiencing the same sorrow.

“I will not stop until I make positive change,” Martin said. “I will not lose my dogs for nothing.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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