Two dogs have died after suspected exposure to toxic algae.
Elayna Girardin had to put down her dogs Stella and Luna after health complications from suspected toxic algae exposure. Credit: Courtesy of Elayna Girardin / CBS 13

A popular park in Cumberland is experiencing a toxic blue-green algae bloom.

The algae at Twin Brook Recreational Facility is very dangerous to dogs in high concentrations.

Elayna Girardin was walking her dogs Stella and Luna at Twin Brook Recreational Facility about a week ago. The next night, both started showing suspected signs of blue-green algae exposure.

“She was walking kind of stiff. My other dog Stella tried to jump on the bed and yelped in pain,” Girardin said. “They became almost walking zombies, they just weren’t with it.”

Girardin brought both dogs to a veterinarian.

“They didn’t know what it was at first,” Girardin said. “It was Lepto, or some sort of toxin, since both of them had it.”

After going back home, Luna started to have seizures.

“We decided to bring her in to have her euthanized and our vet Thursday called and asked if they could take some samples from her to help find answers,” Girardin said.

The results showed blue-green algae exposure, something the town’s director of communications, Whitney Miller, said is unusual.

“This blue-green algae is dangerous, but it is also usually thriving in really warm, sunny conditions,” Miller said. “And obviously, this summer has been a little different with what we’re usually experiencing here in Maine.”

Girardin’s other dog, Stella, also had to be put down a few days later.

“I don’t want anyone to go through this,” Girardin said. “It was not a pleasant way for them to go. They were suffering and it was awful to watch and to make that decision do we put them down? Do we not put them down?”

The town contacted the Maine Department of Environmental Protection about the possible bloom.

The algae is not always easy to spot and for now, the town is urging people and dogs to avoid all bodies of water in town.

“Typically, it looks like you can kind of see it as almost a slimy looking substance on the top of the water,” Miller said. “However, as you can tell, a lot of the water is low and kind of murky as it is.”

Miller said the Department of Environmental Protection is scheduled to start testing all bodies of water in town for the algae on Wednesday and results should be in by Friday.