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Pet owner asking others to stay cautious when taking their pets to local reservoirs

Sep 23, 2023, 10:05 PM | Updated: Sep 24, 2023, 5:26 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite the end of summer, a Brigham City woman is calling on pet owners to stay cautious when taking their furry family to reservoirs.

One-year-old pup Scout and his owners visited Pelican Beach at Willard Bay State Park last Sunday. It was their first time visiting the park. A few days later, the Blue Heeler/Boarder Collie mix was diagnosed with a skin condition likely caused by algae, according to the dog’s veterinarian.

“(Where) he was swimming, it was more grassy, it was a little more shallow, the water is pretty still,” said Samantha Cragin, Scout’s owner.

Cragin said she didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and was not. She told KSL his symptoms developed about 24 hours after they visited Pelican Beach.

“He started getting a fever. It didn’t get bad about two days later,” she said. “He was acting lethargic and pretty sluggish, which is just not like him.”

Scout was taken to an emergency veterinarian clinic but was not diagnosed. The next day, the dog was visibly in pain.

“He started developing pain on his back, on his hind legs. It got so bad we couldn’t even pet him, he was so sore,” Cragin said.

Scout was taken back to the vet, this time sedated and had his back shaved. Scout had sores and bloody wounds throughout his back and was diagnosed with folliculitis & furunculosis.

The rashes on Scout's back. (Courtesy: Samantha Cragin) The rashes on Scout's back. (Courtesy: Samantha Cragin)

Scout has been a healthy dog and has also visited other reservoirs. Cragin said the veterinarian was very confident algae was the issue.

According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s website, the water at Willard Bay is good and has no health advisories. It was recently tested for E. Coli on Sept. 1. Willard Pond, however, has had reports of algal blooms.

Cragin is now left with a $2,000 veterinarian bill and doesn’t want pet owners to go through the same thing she’s going through, asking pet owners to stay cautious.

“Right now, honestly, any big body of water, sort of like lower elevation, I would just avoid. I know dogs love water, but, like, set up a kiddie pool or something. It’s not worth the risk.”

To learn more about how to spot algal blooms, you can visit DEQ’s water website.

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Pet owner asking others to stay cautious when taking their pets to local reservoirs