BELTON, Texas – We now know what caused the deaths of several small dogs that spent time in Belton Lake. Test results show toxins were found in the water.

A walk along the shoreline of the Morgan Point Marina in Belton Lake led to the death of four dogs.

“This is where you have more chances of those toxins and things like that being collected in the water. You want to get out in more of the open areas, where the wind and the wave action keeps those things washed away,” says Joshua Brown, the Belton Lake Manager.

Brown says after receiving reports of the deaths, the Brazos River authorities collected samples of the water and sent it to the lab to be tested – and the results are in.

“We found that the solid materials, the algae or the decaying material algae that is collected along the shoreline, did contain those elevated levels of the cyanotoxins,” Brown said. “It’s likely that the dogs ingested that.”

(Courtesy: Brazos River Authorities)

Brown says they are not able to verify this 100 percent, because a necropsies was not performed on the animals. He says it is reasonable to think this because of where the toxins where found.

An area filled with algae should be avoided. Over time, the free floating algae will build up.

“As that washes or blows into the shore, that collects along the rocks,” Brown said.

When bringing your animal out, Brown says it is best to find an area where the bottom of the lake is visible.

“With your pets, with your dogs, when you are bringing them out to the lake, you want to avoid areas where you have the decaying material. Especially collected along the shoreline,” Brown said.

Dr. Amanda Chadwell is the Director of the Bell County Public Health District, who said in a statement:

“We have received the report of water and algal tissue samples from Lake Belton. I have reviewed the test results, and, while the level of toxins are dangerous for animals, at these levels they do not pose a health risk for humans.”

While the toxins don’t present risk for humans, Brown wants to emphasize that anytime you go into nature, there are possible risks. So always do your part to stay safe.

“This is another one of those things that we need to learn to identify it, so that we can avoid it and that we can stay safe,” Brown said.