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Family: Our Dog Died After Ingesting Blue-Green Algae

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Our wet weather could be making lakes dangerous for dogs. One dog named Copper died last weekend after fetching a tennis ball from Prairie Lake north of Becker. His family shares the warning for dog owners.

Copper was part of the Tatge family for five years.

"Loved the water, loved hanging out with the family and loved chasing balls," said Brock Tatge, his owner.

That's what he was doing at the family home on Prairie Lake Sunday when the retriever started acting strange.

"The last couple times he didn't try to go get the tennis balls, he just laid down," 11-year-old Bennett Tatge said.

A few minutes after that he died.

"I couldn't believe how aggressively it hit him," Brock Tatge said.

The Tatges said Copper ingested some of green goop that had surfaced in the water.

"The algae is right up under the dock by the shore, and it's a bright green slimy, bubbly substance," Kirsten Tatge said.

Glenn Skupta, with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said the algae has a range of effects.

"The most dangerous is when it's actually ingested," he said.

Skupta said blue-green algae looks like a splash of paint in the water. In this case, it was mixed in with other non-toxic algae, so it wasn't as obvious.

It most likely grew because of the recent rainfall.

"We've had more phosphorous run into the lakes, and it's high phosphorous and warmth that really drive a blue green algae bloom," Skupta said.

The Tatges hope what happened to Copper will help make people more aware of what to look out for.

"It's extremely unfortunate we lost a good buddy and a family member," Brock Tatge said. "Hopefully other people can benefit through education and try to prevent this."

Blue-green algae can be dangerous for people too, but we're much less likely to ingest it. The kids were in the water with Copper and are doing fine. Skupta said as a general rule, when in doubt, stay out.

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