Families seek answers when 2 dogs die after swimming in Lake Men - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Families seek answers when 2 dogs die after swimming in Lake Mendota

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Veterinarians are trying to figure out why two dogs died after swimming in Lake Mendota on Sunday.

Lindsey Holmes says she took her dog Lucy to the Memorial Union for a quick swim around noon Sunday. Within minutes of getting home, the 3-year-old dog started acting strangely. She vomited and was gasping for air, so Holmes took her to the UW School of Veterinary Care. She was told the dog could no longer breathe on her own.

"It was a drastic change from a completely healthy dog, to having to put her down, and she died within a few hours of just swimming in the lake," Holmes tells 27 News.

While Holmes was at the vet, another dog owner showed up with his sick dog. Cheerio had the same symptoms after swimming at Marshall Beach just a few hours later on Sunday. Her owner tells 27 News the 4-year-old dog hardly made it to the clinic before she passed away.

Both dog owners say they think something in the water killed their dogs, because they became so sick very quickly after swimming in spots they've visited in the past. 

The unexpected conditions of both dogs prompted veterinarians to call 911 to contact Public Health Madison-Dane County for help. Lab manager Kirsti Sorsa tells 27 News she initially thought bluegreen algae could be to blame, but public health officials tested the water Monday morning at both spots on the lake and didn't find any evidence of toxic algae.

"Very low levels, more like you would normally see in a water system, the water was very clear. There were no toxins at all, what we tested for," Sorsa says.

The health department is still waiting on results of an E. coli test at Marshall Beach. That's expected to be complete Tuesday morning. At this time, the department is not warning people to keep out of the water.

UW veterinarians are doing a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy, on both dogs to find some answers. The uncertainty is agonizing for Holmes, who just wants to know what took the life of her otherwise healthy dog.

"We want answers, some sort of peace of mind as to why this happened," Holmes tells 27 News. "She was 3-years-old and she had so much life left for her to live. It's so sad to even try to process all of this right now."

Holmes hopes people will be vigilant about taking their dogs to the lake after what happened. She wants to see health officials post a notice about safety risks, until they figure out what caused the dogs' deaths.

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