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Antrim Lough Shore water warning after two dogs die

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Antrim Lough Shore Park. (Pic: Googlemaps)

Antrim Lough Shore Park. (Pic: Googlemaps)

Antrim Lough Shore Park. (Pic: Googlemaps)

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has issued a public warning after concerns about the water at Antrim Lough Shore.

It comes after reports that two dogs have died after visiting the area.

In a social media update, the council said: “Whilst investigations continue at Antrim Loughshore we would strongly advise dog owners to exercise caution and keep their dogs on a lead at all times. We would also advise that all water sport activity (including open water swimming) cease until further notice is given.”

The warning follows reports of the death of two dogs in the area in recent days, a five-month-old Golden Retriever named Winnie and 15-month-old Cocker Spaniel Milo.

Commenting on Facebook, Winnie’s owner Kaylee Agnew said she was heartbroken by the loss.

A Spokesperson for the Department for Agriculture (DAERA) said the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) were alerted on May 5 to a report highlighting the potential for the presence of water pollution at Rea’s Wood in Antrim, following the death of a dog that had recently been in the water.

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 “A NIEA Water Quality Inspector was tasked to the area following the report. No visual evidence of an algal bloom or any other signs of water pollution were detected,” they said. 

"As a precautionary measure a water sample was taken for algal analyses. No blue green algae have been found in the sample analysed by NIEA. Our results have been passed to the council as part of their investigation.”

On Wednesday, Queen’s University academic Professor Chris Elliott told the BBC that an algae bloom that releases toxins could be to blame.

Professor Elliott, the founder of the Institute for Global Food Security, said he wouldn’t be walking his dog in the area until further notice.

He added that humans would need to be exposed to a large amount of toxins to have any dramatic effect on health.

"Dogs are one of the most susceptible species to these toxins," he told the BBC.

"Normally I take my dog for a walk through Rea's Wood and at the moment I will not be taking my dog there. That would be my advice to everybody."

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said that the death of two dogs was confirmed last week, and investigations are ongoing to establish the cause of death.

“No cause of death has yet been identified although the results from water samples taken on Friday have confirmed that Blue Green Algae was not present,” they said.

“Council has liaised with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency Water Management Unit and further samples have been taken, the results of which are expected early next week.

“In the absence of any conclusive information regarding this investigation, we would continue to advise dog owners to exercise caution and keep their dogs on a lead at all times in this area. We would reiterate our advice that all water sports activity (including open water swimming) cease until further notice is given.”

Council staff are also at Antrim Loughshore to answer questions from the public.


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