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'They literally saved his life that night': Local dog almost dies after swim in lagoon

"They literally saved his life that night:" Local dog almost dies after swim in lagoon

MADISON, Wis. - A local dog owner is warning others to think twice before letting their pet go swimming in a body of water after his dog suffered severe injuries.

Christopher Celi took his dog to Tenney Park, where he went for a swim in the lagoon. 

"He really wasn't in there for very long but just long enough to take a drink of water," Celi said.

It was only hours later that his dog began to show symptoms. 

"He got out of his chair and it looked like he was drunk or having a seizure. It was one of the scariest things I had ever seen," Celi said.

Celi rushed his dog to the animal hospital. The veterinarian was able to save the dog, but his liver is severely damaged.

"They literally saved his life that night," Celi said. "They said he would not have made it."

Celi said the symptoms matched one of the types of bacteria that attack the liver, leading himself and the vet to believe cyanobacteria, the scientific term for blue-green algae, could have been in the water.

"It can cause skin irritation, itching. If they get it ingested, it can cause them to have a reaction internally. It can cause liver damage," Jennifer Braun, a microbiologist for Public Health of Madison and Dane County said.

Braun said the toxin in blue-green algae can be especially dangerous to dogs because of their size.

"They don't know better. They don't see that and know to stay out. So, they might drink the water. It gets on their fur, then they lick their fur," Braun said.

Clean Lakes Alliance said the safest thing to do is stay out of unclean water.

"If you see anything that has that paint-like kind of blue, green, white, swirly, it's best just to keep your dog out of it," Braun said.

Celi collected samples of the water and said the public health department is testing for toxins.

"I hope that we can find out if this is really bad enough water that it can kill a dog in one night," Celi said.

Public Health of Madison and Dane County tracks blue-green algae and alerts the public when a beach is closed on their website: https://www.publichealthmdc.com/environmental-health/beaches-lakes-pools/beach-conditions/.

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