Lake Belton sunset

Richard Bush captured this sunset sky recently while sailing with his wife, Janet, on Lake Belton.

Pet owners are taking precautions as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urges visitors to consider not taking their dogs to Lake Belton after reports of canines dying after contact with the water.

Glenda Presley, a Bell County resident, said her daughter’s dog was among those that died after a trip to the recreational area.

“You might be careful taking your dog to Belton Lake right now,” Presley said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “(My daughter) took hers today and within 15 minutes he started having seizures. She immediately took him to the vet where he died.”

Although Presley said the veterinarian could not pinpoint what led to the dog’s death, the family was told that this was the third dog the facility had seen under similar circumstances.

“For this to have happened multiple times in a week, I would not chance it,” Presley said.

Incidents of blue-green algae in Central Texas have occurred this year, with the Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis testing positive for the algae. At least one canine died and others were sickened from exposure to the algae, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

On Monday, the Corps of Engineers — which is advising people to keep their pets from drinking or entering the lake’s water — said early investigations have already begun on Lake Belton.

“Local USACE personnel conducted a site visit to visually assess the water and adjacent shoreline,” the Corps said in a news release. “The lake water appeared normal with no visual indication of a harmful algae bloom and nothing unusual was observed on the adjacent shoreline and land.”

However, staff members at the lake are working to determine if there is an environmental cause behind the deaths, and will coordinate with officials from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for assistance with water sampling, testing and analysis.

Lake Manager Joshua Brown, who oversees Lake Belton, told the Telegram that the Corps of Engineers also are working with the Brazos River Authority on the issue.

“The Brazos River Authority is helping us with this testing, and are following the lead of the Lower Colorado River Authority that recently had a similar incident in the Lake Travis area,” Brown said. “We’re going to be sending those samples off and will hopefully get results as fast as possible.”

Brown, who became lake manager about five months ago, said a conservative estimate for results is one to two weeks.

“We’re hoping to expedite that (timeline) and get it faster if we can, but some of those things just take time,” he said.

In the meantime, the lake manager stressed that tap water in homes is safe for drinking.

“We have been noticing on social media … that some people are worried about drinking water in their homes,” Brown said. “While the main source for your water may be the lake, it is treated before it goes to your home ... so you shouldn’t have to worry about drinking water in your home.”

Until these incidents are better understood, the Corps of Engineers cautions adjacent landowners and visitors about allowing pets to run loose on government property. Per Title 36 Section 327.11(a) pets are required to be kept on a leash, six feet or less in length, while on government property.

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