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ROSWELL, Ga. – A Milton woman wants to warn other pet owners to be careful after her beloved dog dies after a brief swim in a lake fed by the Chattahoochee River. Several authorities are currently investigating the possible cause of death.
Susan Warner reached out to Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik after her dog Chewy passed away earlier this week.
“He was a beautiful dog,” she said to Petchenik. “We just sobbed day and night.”
Warner said she hiked the Gold Branch Trail in National Park in Roswell and Chewy took a dip in Bull Sluice Lake.
“He just jumped in, he wasn’t completely submerged,” she said. “But enough where his body was partially submerged.”
Within minutes, Warner said Chewy had become lazy and refused to leave.
* He coughed and a lot of fluid came up when he coughed, ”she said.
Warner took Chewy home to a vet near Milton.
“Chewy presented himself paralyzed, unable to walk and my staff had to carry him in,” said Dr. Bonny Willhite. “His mucous membranes were extremely pale and he had shortness of breath, critical shortness of breath.”
An X-ray found fluid in Chewy’s lungs.
“Over time, despite the fact that we were all around him the entire time for the next two to three hours, despite oxygen therapy, fluids, broad spectrum antibiotic therapy, steroids, even Lasix … he started to decline.” “she started saying.
When Warner took Chewy to an Emergency Vet Hospital in Sandy Springs, the 4-year-old mix of Golden Retriever and English Cream succumbed to his illness.
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“It was devastating,” said Willhite. “We tried everything and this helpless feeling is simply indescribable. I like to take pride in how hard I work on my cases and leave nothing behind. But I didn’t do anything. It was just bizarre. “
Wilhite said, based on Chewy’s symptoms, she believed he was killed by some type of neurotoxin in the water.
After Warner contacted Petchenik about Chewy’s death, he contacted Chattahoochee riverkeeper Jason Ulseth, who ordered the testing of the water.
“Preliminary results from the samples we sent to the University of Georgia show that they found low levels of two types of cyanobacteria that are capable of producing a neurotoxin that could be toxic to a dog,” said Ulseth.
Ulseth said it is commonly referred to as “blue-green algae,” which is extremely unusual in the Chattahoochee River.
“This is the first case of possible neurotoxin death in an animal that I have ever heard of,” he said. “It is important to know that the Chattahoochee River is a very cold and actually quite clean waterway, especially in the national park. And they are not conditions that are very friendly for the production of these toxins. So we do not expect broad flowers of these cyanobacteria blue-green algae in the entire river system. “
Still, Ulseth said the National Park Service would also examine the water to make sure it was safe.
The UGA professor who ran the tests on the water told Petchenik it was difficult to know exactly what Chewy came in contact with because the water he came in contact with was downstream when she took a sample from the Lake collected.
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“We will contact the vet to determine if anatoxin is detectable in samples from the dog,” said Dr. Susan Bennett Wilde. “I don’t want to worry the public. This case is still being investigated. This is an opportunity to train people with dogs to be careful when allowed to swim in rivers, reservoirs, and ponds. If your dog gets sick after swimming, contact your veterinarian and Georgia EPD. We can continue to improve water quality and safe recreation in our states if we all work to prevent excess nutrients / pollution from entering our rivers. Protect the watershed, protect wildlife, domestic animals and human health. The Riverkeepers are doing a great job, but we all have to help. “
Willhite said pet owners, especially in the warmer months, should avoid exposure to water that has a “blue-green tinge” or appears frothy.
“When your dogs are running around and wandering, etc., they will want to take a swig from a puddle or a river or something else, but you know at this point we just don’t know which bodies of water are safe. So bring water and let them drink water from home or in bottles, ”she said. “Make sure you are very careful what they drink outside.”
Warner told Petchenik she hoped what happened to Chewy will serve as a warning to others.
“If our water isn’t clean and it kills a dog, people need to know that risk when they go for walks,” she said.