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Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms
Harmful Algal Blooms - Press Release
New York Sea Grant brochure alerts pet owners of potentially lethal toxins in NY waters


Dave MacNeill, dbm4@cornell.edu or (315) 312-3042

Barbara Branca, barbara.branca@stonybrook.edu or (631) 632-6956

Oswego, New York, September 9, 2014 - New York Sea Grant (NYSG) announces the publication of Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms. Harmful algal blooms (HABs), especially in the state's fresh water, are overgrowths of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that cause water quality problems in lakes and ponds, including the occasional production of potent toxins. These toxins can poison people, household pets, waterfowl and livestock. Because HABs are increasing in many areas, the number of dog poisonings from cyanobacterial toxins is also on the rise. To keep canine companions safe around local waterways, this important brochure provides pet owners a safety checklist of symptoms of HABs poisoning and steps that can be taken if a dog is exposed to HABs.

Author Dave MacNeill, a NYSG extension educator from SUNY Oswego, began noticing more and more reports of dogs becoming ill from the toxins produced by HABs in the Lake Ontario area. "People might get sick, but people's dogs are actually dying," said MacNeill. In compiling this brochure, he enlisted the aid of Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a toxicologist at Cornell University Veterinary College, Scott Kishbaugh of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Dr. Lesley V. D’Anglada of USEPA, John Wickham, NOAA National Ocean Service, and colleagues in the Sea Grant network.

Bischoff explains that, “Cyanobacterial poisonings are under-reported in domestic animals because people haven’t been aware of the problem.  That could be changing since HABs have become more prominent in the news, as exemplified by, the recent microcystin bloom in Lake Erie that affected the water supply of Toledo, Ohio.”

"This brochure will be a great addition to New York Sea Grant's outreach activities informing the public and management community of the rise and threats of freshwater CyanoHABs," said Wickham, program manager with NOAA National Ocean Service.

Dr. Greg Boyer of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry who has researched HABs extensively -- from blue greens in upstate lakes to brown tide in Long Island bays -- and Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), an internationally known expert in HABs, were also consulted on the brochure.

We generally think of New York’s freshwater resources as being the State’s two Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and New York’s great river systems and their tributaries. However, in summer 2014, blue greens have been detected in Suffolk County on Eastern Long Island.

Said Gobler, “NYSDEC now monitors and reports on blue green algae blooms throughout the state.  Despite its small size and limited number of lakes, Suffolk County has consistently had more lakes listed by NYSDEC for blue green algae than any other county in NY State.”

Wherever you may take your pet as you enjoy New York’s water resources, be sure to read this publication and pass it on.

Funding for the development and printing of this publication was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research.

The publication is available for download at New York Sea Grant’s HABs website in two formats: brochure (pdf) and fact sheet (pdf).

More information on harmful algal blooms via NYSG at www.nyseagrant.org/habs.

For interested groups, multiple hard copies may be made available. Please contact Dave MacNeill, dbm4@cornell.edu or (315) 312-3042.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, which, in 2014, merges with the program's e-newsletter, Currents. NY Coastlines is published several times a year.

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