Blue-green algae warning at 3 lakes in Minneapolis after dog's death

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On Sunday, visitors to Cedar Lake in Minneapolis were greeted by bright blue signs warning of a blue-green algae outbreak.

The alerts were posted at the edge of the beach and in the sand close to the water's edge to help inform would-be swimmers, kayakers or dog owners, such as Nathelie Benjamin and Mark Mersereau. The couple was walking their two dogs, Onyx and Gia.

"The dogs are our excuse we needed to get out a little bit," Benjamin said.

Gia had been wading in the shallow water with her paws dripping wet when she shook her fur and made her humans laugh. The couple quickly reigned in their dogs and said the rest of the walk would be on dry land after they learned someone else's beloved pet abruptly died at Cedar Lake on May 12 after coming into contact with blue-green algae tainted lake water. 

"I had no idea, haven't heard anything about it," Mersereau said.

On Friday, lab tests showed the fast-growing bacteria, which thrives in warm, stagnant water, also contaminated parts of Lake of the Isles and Lake Nokomis. 

Experts said it tends to look slimy on the surface, and even just a few sips of it can be toxic to humans, and especially to dogs. The Minnesota Department of Health stated that's because they swallow water when swimming or retrieving a ball, they're not turned off by green smelly stuff and can be exposed by licking the algae from their fur later when grooming.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board believes that because of a rapid ice-out in the spring, the algae underneath didn't die off and instead flourished. 

"Right now, the conditions for its growth are ideal and it will eventually die off," said Robin Smothers, a spokesperson for the park board. "The algae is a natural occurring phenomenon, and nothing can be done to eliminate it."

As for Gia, her humans said as they left Cedar Lake, they won't be taking any chances.

"She is a getting a bath when she gets home. Definitely, definitely," Benjamin said.