Shelby Farms confirms two dogs died after playing in lakes; cause unknown

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby Farms Park confirmed Thursday that two dogs died after playing in its lakes, and says the lakes in its Outback area are closed for testing.

Park officials could not confirm the cause of death, but a recent Facebook post warned that two dogs were killed by toxic algae after swimming at Shelby Farms Park. It was shared and re-posted thousands of times before the woman who posted it deleted it.

The post comes after toxic algae killed at least four dogs this month in North Carolina and Georgia.

A Shelby Farms spokesperson said early Thursday that they hadn’t been contacted by a pet owner or any animal hospitals about the alleged dog deaths, and they haven’t seen any signs of toxic algae.

But park officials released a new statement later in the day confirming the deaths.

“The safety of all visitors, including pets, is our top priority, and extensive water testing is being performed by an outside laboratory. In addition to lab testing, we are working with multiple partners to ensure that we have the most accurate information about our lake ecosystems. Out of an abundance of caution, we are closing the lakes in The Outback,” Rebecca Dailey, with Shelby Farms Park, said.

“We understand and share the passion our visitors have for pet safety and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to gather information, wait for lab results and formulate action plans as needed.”

WREG called several Memphis veterinarians early Thursday, and none said they had seen any local cases of dogs dying from toxic algae.

The news is a bit worrisome for Jessica McDonald, whose 3-year-old pup Sansa loves the water.

“It’s really sad,” she said at Shelby Farms. “But as far as here, I haven’t seen anything.”

In the meantime, if you think your dog has gotten into toxic algae, get them out of the water immediately, rinse them with clean water and take them right to the vet.

Experts say dogs can get sick within about 15 minutes of being exposed to toxic algae. The EPA recommends keeping your dog on a leash so it can’t run right into the water, and stay away from any water that looks slimy or foamy or has a strange color like blue, bright green, brown or red.

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