Greater Wellington Regional Council: Dog death from suspected toxic algae poisoning reinforces need for vigilance, say Greater Wellington

The death of a dog from suspected poisoning by toxic algae in the Hutt River reinforces the importance of staying out of the river and away from its edge when warnings about toxic algae are in place.

The dog, a Labrador, died on 2 December after visiting the Hutt River near Moonshine. It collapsed and died before arriving at Wellington’s After Hours Veterinary Clinic, where it was being taken for emergency treatment.

“This is awful news and we commiserate with the dog’s owner,” says Greater Wellington Chair, Cllr Chris Laidlaw.

“Unfortunately the death of the dog is a terrible reminder to the community that we must take toxic algae seriously. Our advice is very clear. If there are warnings in place that it is present in the river, heed the warnings and stay away from the river in those areas.

“Dogs are attracted to its odour, and children who inadvertently swallow toxic algae can also become extremely sick. We do not want anyone harmed, so please remain vigilant at all times if you are visiting our rivers. As always it is better to be safe than sorry”.

The incident follows multimedia alerts about toxic algae in large areas of the Hutt River last week from Greater Wellington.  Warnings are in place against swimming and dog walking in all areas of the Hutt River between where the Akatarawa tributary meets the Hutt River, south through to the Shandon Golf Club near Ewen Bridge.

A separate warning has been issued for the Pakuratahi River in Kaitoke Regional Park, from where the river passes under SH2 to where it meets the Hutt River at the Pakuratahi Forks car park.

“Hot, dry days are forecast for a while yet, perfect conditions for the growth and potential further spread of toxic algae. We strongly urge the public to check the status of the water if visiting local rivers, and to alert Greater Wellington is they find anything suspect.”

“Unfortunately, toxic algae is a naturally occurring condition and there are no actions Greater Wellington can currently take to prevent or eliminate it, so it’s up to people to avoid it,” says Cllr Laidlaw.

Before heading out to swim, people should err on the side of caution and search Is it Safe to Swim? on Greater Wellington’s website. Information will also be available in media releases, which are available through the site’s homepage.

For more information about this media release contact the Greater Wellington Regional Council mediaphone 021 914 266.

Check summer water quality information on the Greater Wellington Regional Council website at http://www.gw.govt.nz/is-it-safe-to-swim/