What seemed like an innocent dip in the lake turned to tragedy on 17 May, after seven dogs fell ill and a further three died.
Brooklands Lake in Dartford, Kent, was closed to walkers and anglers as tests were carried out by the Environment Agency to confirm the presence of toxic algae. There is no effective way of removing the algae so the lake will remain closed until the Environment Agency confirms the algal count has dropped to a safe level.
— Kent Police (UK) (@kent_police) May 17, 2016
Dartford Borough Council is advising people not to swim or paddle in the lake and not to allow their dogs into the water, follow advice displayed on warning signs and keep your dog on a lead at all times. If you believe you or your dog have come into contact with the algae seek medical advice.
Kent Police said the 10 dogs were with dog walker Ineta Kevin, and her two assistants from the Top Dog Training School & Home Boarding in Swaledale Road, Dartford. Ineta is currently crowdfunding to help pay the vet bills of the dogs who were treated and aims to raise £5,000.
Ineta said, “On the news they said it is the last beautiful day and then it will get cold. I thought to myself, what an amazing opportunity to take dogs swimming. Then we decided it’s time to go and Pippa went into what looked like epileptic fit. Then Marley, then Stanley.”
Ineta took the dogs to the Accident & Emergency unit of Park Vets Surgery in Sidcup. Vets worked for 45 minutes but could not save Pippa, a Beagle, Stanley, a Boxer, and Marley, a mongrel, who were all less than a year old. The surviving dogs will need further medial treatment.
Ineta adds, “My insurance won’t cover such a great cost so we are pleading to everyone to help as much as you can.“
Around this time of year and throughout the summer the naturally-occurring algae can produce a potential toxin harmful to humans and toxic to animals. Animal symptoms include muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea and seizures, and can lead to death in as little as 15 minutes.
This is not first time the fishing lake has been found to have the toxins. In 2013 people were advised to stay away after blue-green algae was discovered.