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River water led to death of puppy

By Nicole Webber

algae dog Bell
algae dog Bell

A HEARTBROKEN dog owner has revealed his puppy died after drinking from a river.

The death has prompted an investigation by Highland Council.

David O’Connor, chairman of Glen Wyvis Distillery, was walking his two dogs with his family along the River Conon near the Moy Island on Thursday when his nine-month-old spaniel Bell drank some water which apparently contained blue-green algae.

By the time the family had driven as far as Dingwall the dog was being violently sick.

"It is a tragedy, it all happened so quickly," he said.

They rushed the spaniel to Fraser and Fraser vets in Dingwall, but in the car she was beginning to lose consciousness.

"From the first time she was sick to her passing away was under 30 minutes," said Mr O’Connor, a former Inverness area police commander. "I don’t want any other families to go through what we did."

After losing his dog, Mr O’Connor retraced his steps to see if it was possible Bell had eaten something poisonous. He bumped into another man down by the river, who showed him an area with thick patches of the algae.

Although known as blue-green algae the substance is called cyanobacteria. It can also sometimes look like green-blue flakes in the water or not be visible at all.

It can be toxic enought to kill fish and other organisms living in the water.

A council spokeswoman said that it was investigating the death.

Highland Dogblog and Barking Buddies Highlands have spread the word on social media and are urging people to report any sightings of algae.

Meanwhile, warning signs have also been put up after the council was notified of an algal bloom in Loch Tarff near Fort Augustus.

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