Algae suspected in death of Santa Rosa dog that played in park pond
An 11-month-old Santa Rosa dog died a “horrible death” Monday, a day after she was in the water at a park where a city worker subsequently found a small patch of algae responsible for numerous public health warnings and two other dog deaths in recent years.
“That damn blue-green algae killed her and we are heartbroken,” Danielle Hill-Hruby said in a public Facebook post Monday afternoon. “It happened so fast and is no joke. It’s awful.”
Hill-Hruby could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but a city official said she called the city Recreation & Parks office Tuesday morning to report the death of her dog, Konah.
A Santa Rosa veterinarian called the department Monday night and left a message regarding the dog’s death, prompting Dean Hamlin, a park supervisor, to check the pond at Rincon Valley Community Park adjacent to Maria Carrillo High School.
Hamlin found a patch, about 3 feet square, of blue-green algae in the pond next to the dog park, said Kristi Buffo, a Recreation & Parks marketing and outreach coordinator.
“We’ve seen it before at Howarth Park, she said.
Signs are posted at Howarth Park’s Lake Ralphine warning of a blue-green algae bloom.
In her Facebook post, Hill-Hruby said she and her husband took Konah to the dog park Sunday with no awareness of the hazard.
“I had no idea, so please be aware it’s a horrible death,” she said. “We are contacting the city parks so hopefully it doesn’t happen to another dog. Rest in Peace sweet girl.”
Signs warning of “possible toxic algae” were posted Monday night at the ponds in Rincon Valley Community Park and were to be posted Tuesday at Nagasawa Community Park on Fountaingrove Parkway, which has a lake and boat ramp, and at A Place to Play Community Park on West Third Street, which has a lake.
A blue-green algae bloom was spotted near the dock at Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park on Tuesday morning and warning signs were posted at the dock, the dam and other park access points, Buffo said.
Algae blooms have been seen intermittently since mid-summer near the dock and boat launch at the 25-acre lake, which is used only for boating and fishing, she said. Blooms move around with the wind and also move up and down from the surface to below the surface of the water.
Swimming and dogs are never allowed in the lake and city-sponsored activities are canceled whenever algae appears near the dock. The dock and launch are open at all times to the public, Buffo said.
The Recreation & Parks website warns that blue-green algae “can be dangerous to people and pets” and advises people to stay out of the water when a bloom is present, keep dogs away from it, do not drink the water and avoid contact with algae.
Fish caught in the water and any berries collected near it should be cleaned before eating.
Handmade cardboard signs at the entrances to the Rincon Valley park and around the pond said: “Toxic. Blue-green algae found in pond. Deadly to dogs and kids. One dog death already. RIP Konah.”
The Sonoma County Department of Health Services is investigating the conditions at the park in the 5100 block of Badger Road.