Overton Park cautions dog owners after lake tests positive for toxic algae

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bacteria that can potentially kill pets has been detected in the water at an Overton Park lake, the Overton Park Conservancy has revealed.

The conservancy writes on its website that tests found blue-green algae in Rainbow Lake this week.

“We’ve stopped taking him into the water. All water, actually," said dog owner Shu Cui.

The algae is often found in ponds and is a regular presence in Rainbow Lake, the park said, but can sometimes produce toxins that are harmful to dogs. Park officials did not say that there were any reports of dogs becoming sick.

Overton Park said tests showed the algae levels in the lake were in the range considered non-harmful to people by the EPA, but that dogs were more likely to ingest the water.

"Even though it looks like algae, it’s actually a kind of bacteria called cyanobacteria," said Dr. Jennifer Clay, a veterinarian at Utopia Animal Hospital.

Clay said symptoms of algae poisoning can range from drooling to weakness and seizures.

“I know vets that have had dogs that have been exposed to it and got, like, extremely sick and even died within, like, a half an hour or something," Clay said.

In other parts of the country, news reports indicate that several dogs have died this year from ingesting toxins from algae in water. Last month, two dogs at Shelby Farms were rumored to have died from algae poisoning, but veterinarians later confirmed the dogs died from heat stroke.

But dog owners visiting Overton Park aren't taking any chances.

“We’re definitely not gonna probably come back to this park to walk her for a while ‘til we know that it’s clean," said Katelin Byram.

Except for the Overton Bark dog play area, dogs are required to be leashed inside Overton Park.

WREG asked the Overton Park Conservancy when another round of tests would be done on the lake, but hasn't received a response.

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