BATH TOWNSHIP — Tammy and Richard Cotrell had to say goodbye to three of their four dogs this past June after they drank water from their Bath Township pond, a pond that contained deadly blue-green algae.
“I think the public needs to be aware of the dangers of any body of water right now. It’s not just the lakes. It’s not just rivers and things like that. We’re talking, this happened in my front yard,” said Tammy Cotrell.
Within 48 hours, Bandit, Dallas and Lilly were humanely euthanized after becoming very ill. A fourth dog, Daisy, didn’t drink from the pond.
“It is absolutely devastating,” she said.
Bandit, a long-haired Dachshund, was the first dog to exhibit symptoms.
“Within a few minutes, he started having seizures and saliva was coming out of his mouth. He started turning blue. His tongue was turning blue,” she said.
The Cotrells raced Bandit to an emergency animal hospital on state Route 309.
“By the time we got him there, he had vomited, and when they took him back to the room, he died. They performed CPR. They got him back, but he was running a real high fever. The seizures were not stopping,” she said.
Bandit stayed the night but remained in a comatose state. On June 24, at 4 a.m., the vet called the Cotrells with an update. They decided to have Bandit euthanized.
“We allowed Bandit to go because there was nothing they could do for him anymore,” she said.
A day later, Dallas exhibited the same symptoms, and he was rushed to the vet hospital.
“We ended up euthanizing Dallas because we knew the outcome wasn’t going to be good, and he was suffering,” she said.
The Cotrells knew the other two dogs — Lilly and Daisy — were in potential danger and rushed home.
“By the time we got home, our female, the mom (Lilly) was showing signs. She was acting real paranoid and was barking at our bushes. She was stumbling around. We packed her up and took her to our personal vet.
“He too believed that this was the blue-green algae, and we already knew what the outcome was going to be. They euthanized her then,” she said.
“They all presented with symptoms of respiratory distress and neurological symptoms — seizures, to be exact,” said Dr. Nathan Metz. “Over the past 15 years of practice, I have not experienced this toxicity. After speaking with Tammy, it appears the conditions provided the perfect storm for this bloom.”
Metz explained the science behind the toxic blue-green algae that may be in any body of water.
“The algae itself is cyanobacteria. It is comprised of six different chemical classes collectively know as cyanotoxins,” Metz said.
“These toxins are neurotoxic alkaloids and hepatotoxic heptapeptides. The neurotoxins can cause death within minutes to a few hours and the victims usually succumb to respiratory arrest. These toxins bind to the cells within the muscles and nerve tissue and basically paralyze the muscles of breathing.”
The Cotrells have since taken steps to treat their pond and to keep Daisy away from the water.
They also realize when they treated their lawn, the runoff contributed to the growth of the toxic blue-green algae.
“I never would have been treating my lawn if I would have known something like this could have happened,” she added.
Bandit, Dallas and Lilly are buried on the Cotrells property, overlooking the pond they once played in.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.