Heart-wrenching post about blue algae in ‘lake’ killing dog never happened here

FILE ART. A swimmer looks out over a serene Paradise Cove at Castaic Lake's Lower Lagoon. The lake is part of the State Water Project that transports Northern California water to Southern California. August 14, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

After three weeks of Castaic Lake being shuttered in part due to the threat of blue algae, state officials lifted the “caution advisory” Tuesday.

So when a closed social media group of Casaic residents read the heartbreaking tale of Arya, the beloved border collie who died a horrible death within 30 minutes of a visit to “the lake” that day — Thursday — word of the shocking news spread.

State officials with the Department of Water Resources checked on it. So did officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

But, it wasn’t until a questioning staffer at the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation did some digging and found out the truth that state and county officials breathed a sigh of relief.

The incident never happened here. 

Arya belonged to a young woman in Georgia who, tragically, lost her beloved border collie just the way Castaic residents read about in the touching personal testament posted Thursday. 

The post read, in part: “We lost our fun, loving and crazy girl to what we can only assume was a lake toxin such as blue green algae.”

Algae blooms can be harmful to people and pets because of the toxins they produce.

“Whoever posted this copied it word for word, even with the heart (symbol) at the end,” Dora Nunez, spokeswoman for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said Friday.

The local poster who shared the post with Castaic residents made no mention of Georgia or that the algae-infested lake was not Castaic Lake or, for that matter, any lake in California.

Repeated efforts to reach the local poster for details went unanswered. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the post disappeared from the online discussion.

Norm Phillips, superintendent of the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, said Thursday: “I’ve seen that (social media) post. It’s not from this lake.”

On July 18, state water officials issued a “caution advisory” warning visitors to Castaic Lake about a toxic algae bloom spotted in the upper lake.

Local park officials, however, pointed out that the algae in question was isolated near the Elderberry section of the upper lake, near the electrical plant.

On Tuesday, the “caution advisory” was lifted.

DWR spokeswoman Maggie Macias confirmed late Thursday that the department received no word of any pet being harmed after consuming water at Castaic Lake.

“I’m not aware of any report,” she said.

The threat of blue algae, however, remains a very real concern for dog owners.

State guidelines on cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms recommend the following precautions be taken in waters impacted by blue-green algae:

  • Take care that pets and livestock do not drink the water, swim through algal blooms, scum, or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water. Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
  • Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms, scum, or mats.
  • Do not drink, cook, or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances. Common water purification techniques such as camping filters, tablets and boiling do not remove toxins.
  • Do not eat mussels or other bivalves collected from these areas. Limit or avoid eating fish. If fish are consumed, remove the guts and liver and rinse filets in clean drinking water. No fish should be consumed under a danger advisory.
  • Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, a family member, friend, pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Be sure to alert medical professionals to the possible contact with blue-green algae. Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department.

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