Did toxins cause the death of three dogs?

Christopher Lee with his hand on Lacey
Christopher Lee with his hand on Lacey

A SCARBOROUGH man whose dog died following a swim at a local beauty spot has spoken out after tests revealed high levels of toxins in the lake.

Cyanobacteria, known more commonly as blue-green algae, was found by Scarborough Council officials who carried out tests in the water in Burton Riggs Nature Reserve in Seamer.

Burton Riggs Nature Reserve.'072331.

Burton Riggs Nature Reserve.'072331.

Duncan Hanson, 41, of Crossgates, and Graham Poole, 54, from Langtoft, near Driffield, were left devastated after their dogs, German shepherd Riley and Jessie, a spaniel, died shortly after visiting Burton Riggs Nature Reserve at Crossgates.

The pair came forward when Christopher Lee, 45, of Seamer, contacted the Evening News after his six-year-old collie cross Lacey died in July.

Mr Lee said he is hopeful her cause of death may now have been found, adding: “I’m happy that they have at last found something that might have killed my Lacey. I would also like to thank the Evening News for pushing the council to investigate what was happening up there.

“I just hope that the council now put some permanent signs up to stop other people having to go through what I did.”

The substance can be fatal to animals, and can also cause muscle aches and sickness to humans.

Blue-green algae is often found in open water but can only become toxic after prolonged spells of hot weather when water levels drop and an algal bloom forms.

However, prior to the death of the dogs, there were no prolonged periods of hot weather in the area, and the tests only prove the existence of the algae at the reserve.

Two spaniels also died after being poisoned in the area in 2007 and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which owns and operates the reserve, is urging dog walkers to stay away from the lake until the water is deemed safe.

Jonathan Leadley, head of communications at the Trust, said: “It isn’t a huge surprise to us as this is a naturally occurring event in water bodies across the world. We haven’t had those conditions recently and all the tests prove is the presence of the algae not whether it is blooming. We would please ask dog owners to keep their animals out of the water until we have this pinned down.”