Dog owner in call for better signage after scare over toxic algae

PUBLISHED: 08:11 16 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:11 16 August 2018

Francesca Buckley with her west highland terrier Archie. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Francesca Buckley with her west highland terrier Archie. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


A dog owner has called for Hatfield Forest to have more signs informing visitors about a toxic bacteria in a lake after her pet took a plunge.

Francesca has had Archie since he was a puppy. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFrancesca has had Archie since he was a puppy. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Francesca Buckley, 23, who was left with a £500 bill after she rushed her west highland white terrier to the vets, says she and her companions saw no signs saying the forest’s lake contained blue-green algae - which can be fatal to dogs - before she let him swim in the water on August 7.

However, the operations manager at the forest maintains there is clear signage at the lake’s main entrance points.

Miss Buckley, from Braintree, who has had Archie for six years, said: “Archie is a very happy dog but very cheeky. He will go for any water. He ran straight into the lake because it was so hot. He was walking around and drinking the water for about 10 minutes on and off.”

After Archie had finished his swim, Miss Buckley and her three companions, including her mum, were told by a member of staff not to let him in the lake because of the bacteria.

Miss Buckley continued: “As we were walking around the lake we saw a tiny sign saying blue-green algae can be fatal to dogs. I rang the vet who said we needed to get there immediately.”

Archie was given medication by the vets to throw up any toxins there could be.

He stayed at the vets for two nights and was put on a drip before being given the all-clear.

Miss Buckley said: “I thought ‘this can’t be happening’. We just went for a walk, my mum was crying and I was crying. The lake should either be fenced off when there is blue-green algae or there should be a sign at the entrance or all around the lake.”

Henry Bexley, operations manager at Hatfield Forest for the National Trust, said: “We are sorry to hear that one of our visitors did not have the day they had hoped for.

“Blue-green algae appears in the lake at the forest regularly in the summer and found in inland water bodies around the UK.

“We have clear signage at every main entrance point to the lake area to warn visitors about the algae and work closely with the Environment Agency to limit the risk to wildlife.

“In addition, we have operated a complete dogs-on-leads policy in the lake area for several years, with clear signage to ensure visitors know about this.

“No dog should be allowed into the main lake or decoy lake.”

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