Harmful algae forces nine local waterfronts to temporarily ban dog swimming

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Water samples taken last week by the Erie Health Department showed high toxin levels from harmful algal blooms at nine different waterside locations in the Erie area.

The levels were higher than what is considered safe for dogs, so advisories have been posted at those locations to keep dogs from swimming. Those locations include:

  • Sturgeon Bay
  • Perry Monument
  • Presque Isle Marina
  • Niagara Boat Launch
  • Ferry slip
  • Vista 3
  • Boater’s Beach
  • Erie Yacht Club
  • Grahamville Reservoir in North East Township

“It’s a precautionary situation,” said Chelsey Erickson, environmental protection specialist with the Erie County Department of Health. “We know there’s other issues along Lake Erie, but we included dog levels because we have a lot of people in Erie County who bring their dogs to the lake.”

Erickson said the behavior of dogs is why they want to keep people informed.

“Dogs like to drink the water or sniff the algae scum and eat it because it smells bad,” Erickson said. “Then, when they’re in the water, they’re swimming right at nose level and will accidentally drink water that way. If it smells bad, they want to eat it or roll around in it… Their behavior is different than humans. When the government sets action levels for any type of toxin or chemical, it’s based on body weight. Dogs are much much lighter than humans, so, because of their body weight, we have put these precautions in place.”

Erickson added the levels are not currently at a toxic level for humans. Presque Isle State Park has placed signs at those specific locations, warning of the possible effects of people having their pets swim there.

“We put those signs up so pet owners can be aware to not have their dogs in the water in those areas,” said Matt Greene, park operations manager at Presque Isle State Park. “We just want to make sure people can make the best decisions for their recreational activities.

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