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Officials Testing Lake Tahoe for Harmful Blue-Green Algal Bloom after Dog’s Death

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EL DORADO COUNTY -- Officials have tested a portion of the Lake Tahoe shoreline to determine if a toxic form of algae is present.

On August 21, a person reported that their dog had died after swimming in the lake near Tallac Historic Site on the South Shore.

Kiva Beach near the south shore of Lake Tahoe is a treasure for visitors, both human and canine.

"You come out here and usually there's probably 30 or 40 dogs running around, and no problem. They all have fun. It's just a good place to bring your dogs," said visitor Chuck Diana.

Diana and his two playful tennis ball fetchers were among the very few enjoying the dog-friendly beach Tuesday evening.

News has been spreading around South Lake Tahoe about a dog that died shortly after swimming at the beach Aug. 18.

The death was reported to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, which has jurisdiction in the area.

They are now attempting to determine if the dog died from exposure to toxic algae.

A board representative told FOX40 staff members investigated the beach and did not see any visible signs of algae. They collected samples for testing and are expecting results this week.

The dog has been cremated, so officials will not be able to run those tests.

Despite online reports that warning signs have been posted, FOX40 did not see any signs about algae in the parking lot or on the beach.

"We've been out here every night for the last four or five nights. So, I have no concerns," Diana said.

Diana said he would not bring his dogs to the lake if he knew there was algae. He highly doubts there is and said he will keep visiting.

Michele Furia had the same sentiment with her energetic Labrador retriever named Jet.

"I've been in the lake a lot myself, swimming lately. It seems really clear and clean to me," Furia said.

The lack of visitors at a dog beach that's usually crowded when people get off work is a sign, perhaps, that many are staying away until the test results are in.

Some locals were saying as much on the I Love Lake Tahoe Facebook page.

A woman who identified as a friend of the dog owner told FOX40 on Facebook the owner is too distraught to talk about what happened. The friend did say the dog had been swimming in Lake Tahoe, not the small pond adjacent to Kiva Beach.

"I'd be concerned with longtime, standing water," Furia said.

Furia looked at Lake Tahoe’s long history of clarity for comfort.

"And I'm just hoping that it's safe," she said.

Toxic algae blooms are more likely to infest bodies of fresh water when the weather is warm and waters are stagnant, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

There’s no cure for the poisoning, and exposure nearly always leads to death in dogs. Drinking from a body of water where blue-green algae lurks or licking it off fur can kill a dog within 15 minutes of exposure, according to Blue Cross for Pets, a UK animal charity.

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