Shelby Farms testing lake for toxic algae, confirming 2 dogs died after playing in water

Shelby Farms testing lake water after deaths of two dogs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A social media post about toxic algae at Shelby Farms that is killing dogs has caused concern for pet owners.

When you take your dog to the park it can be tempting to let them get into the water, but dog owners say they're now a little bit more wary.

"Sometimes I go to other dog parks with water, but I've been coming to this one because it's dry,” said Mandy Hedstrom, dog owner.

On Wednesday night, a Facebook post started circulating on social media.

A woman said her two dogs died after being exposed to toxic algae in a lake at Shelby Farms.

Rumors swirl on social media about toxic algae in Shelby County

These concerns come after a confirmed case in North Carolina, but this toxic algae may not be what you think.

"So it’s not actually algae, it’s actually a toxic microorganism called ‘cyanobacteria’ that contains chlorophyll. So that chlorophyll makes it look green, like a plant-like material,” said Angie Zinkus, veterinarian.

Doctor Angie Zinkus with Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital says it attacks the central nervous system and the liver.

"It can take dogs down in about 15 minutes by ingestion,” said Zinkus.

For dog owners, something like this happening to their dog is a scary thought. Here are some warning signs to look out for.

"Sometimes the dog starts tremoring but later you can see vomiting and diarrhea if it attacks the liver,” said Zinkus.

But Zinkus says she has not seen any cases so far.

"I work at both ER facilities in town, as well as here and I have not seen any cases,” said Zinkus.

A Shelby Farms spokesperson said they are having the water at the park tested and awaiting results. They are also still working to confirm the report that was shared on Facebook.

Shelby Farms released the following statement Thursday:

"We can confirm the report that two dogs died after playing in the lakes at The Outback off-leash area. We cannot confirm the causes of death at this time.

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.

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.”

To keep your dog safe, it's recommended to stay away from the water.

"Not only for the algae but there’s poisonous snakes, there’s fishing lures there’s glass that dogs can get hurt on as well,” said Zinkus.

If you think there is a problem, contact your vet immediately.

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