One dog dies, two recovered from potentially toxic algae in Columbia River

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — The Benton-Franklin Health District confirmed that one dog died over the weekend from potentially toxic algae in the Columbia River.

The Benton-Franklin Health District launched an investigation Monday after receiving multiple reports of dogs becoming ill after swimming along the Columbia River.

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Rick Dawson with the Benton-Franklin Health District told KAPP-KVEW that the reports from families and veterinarians were consistent, prompting the investigation.

“It spurs action to start an investigation and pretty immediately leads to the posting of those yellow warning signs,” said Dawson.

The yellow warning signs advise the community that the water is unsafe for people and pets.

Initially, investigators reported that three dogs had died over the weekend after swimming near Howard Amon Park, Leslie Groves Park, and the Ringold area. On Tuesday, Dawson told KAPP-KVEW that two of the dogs had recovered from their illnesses.

Erin Dickey’s parents dog, Charlie, died after playing in the Columbia River near Ringold over the weekend.

“Everyone in our family was very enamored by this dog,” said Dickey. “To have something so sudden and shocking and just something we had no control over and couldn’t do anything about has just felt really really awful.”

Dickey says Charlie became very ill after putting her head into the water.

“Within less then a minute she started having these convulsions, it looked like she was having seizures,” said Dickey.

Dickey told KAPP-KVEW they rushed Charlie to the veterinarian, but it was too late.

The Benton-Franklin Health District is recommending that people and pets stay out of the water where the yellow warning signs are posted.

RELATED: WA Dept. of Health warns of toxic algae in Spokane area

“If you’re going to swim in the water we would be concerned in and around the shores of the Columbia River right now,” said Dawson.

The Benton-Franklin Health District is awaiting the results of water samples to confirm the toxic algae.