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Lethargic and shaking: Woman shares warning for others after dog dies while visiting Jordan Lake

The Chatham County Public Health department is warning pet owners about reports of dogs getting sick and even dying after visiting Jordan Lake this weekend.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Several dogs became sick, and some died, after spending time at Jordan Lake over the weekend.

Chatham County Public Health Department put out a warning on social media for pet owners about the reports and said the state Department of Environmental Quality and state Department of Health and Human Services will be investigating.

As of Monday, there were not signs or notices at Farrington Boat Launch about dogs getting sick.

Sarah Pohlig said her 3-year-old beagle mix, Ruby, went everywhere with her.

"I spent more time with her than anybody actually," said Pohlig.

That included taking Ruby out to Jordan Lake on the family's sailboat. That's where the family was Saturday along with their friends and two other dogs.

"Ruby is 'woofing,' biting all the waves — really cute, we thought," said Pohlig. "We noticed she was bloated about an hour in ... she put her paws on the side of the hull and wanted to be back on the boat, which is not really like her,"

But, the day cruising came to an abrupt end.

"She was listless, lethargic, had some shaking and was making some funny sounds," said Pohlig.

The family thought Ruby was overheated. But cold towels didn't cool her off.

Pohlig said Ruby was gone before they could get back to the boat launch at Farrington Point.

"Her heartbeat got really faint, kind of came back for a little and then went away and didn't come back," she said.

A spokesperson for DEQ said a team is collecting water samples near the boat launch on Monday to test for harmful algae blooms. The department waits until it warms up because that's when the algae thrives.

County health officials say people should watch out for discolored water that looks green, blue, red or brown, which looks like spilled paint.

People should contact their veterinarian if your dog was around the water and becomes sick. Symptoms include vomiting, stumbling and falling, loss of energy, tremors and seizures.

"It could also be caused by water intoxication, which has similar symptoms." said Dr. Jennifer Frederico, the director of Wake County Animal Services.

"It's seen mostly when you take dogs to the beach, to the pool, when they're consuming large amounts of water quickly. They can have symptoms within 15 minutes of having too much to up to three days depending how much they consumed," she said.

It's rare for humans to get sick from a harmful algae bloom, if that's what this turns out to be. DEQ officials said results from the water testing should be back from the lab in a few hours.

"You want to watch for both of these things. One is moe it's there waiting for you, one is they're having fun and it went too far," said Frederico. "If you see any of those signs of blue-green algae, I would not take my pet there. It's not worth the risk."

The two other dogs on the boat with them are doing fine, Pohlig said. She adds that they didn't notice any harmful algae bloom when they were at the lake on Saturday.

Pohlig said she wants other dog owners to be aware of these potential dangers this summer.

"We saw other people out there with their dogs and we were like be careful — our dog just died. We don't know why," she said.

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