When Facebook isn't trying to sell me a sectional sofa, it can also deliver heartbreaking stories.  Stories that are shared in the hopes of helping readers avoid the tragedy others have endured. You may want to skip past the pictures to the information below.

Extreme sadness alert. This get's real dark real fast.

This story from Florida dates back a few years. Here's the Facebook post shared by Sharon Fecak that will break your heart.

PET OWNERS that take their dogs to lakes and creeks please read this.
This morning we thought, it’s so hot! Let’s go to the lake! We took our sweet Arya to the lake and had the best day playing ball and swimming around! About 30 minutes later on the drive home, we noticed her making weird noises and she threw up and pooped in the car. We called our vet on the drive and they suggested we take her in. By this point our girl couldn’t even stand... They told us she was in critical condition so we took her to the ER. By the time we got there, she was brain dead... Today was absolutely awful. We lost our fun, loving, and crazy girl to what we can only assume was a lake toxin such as blue green algae.
Arya, no dog will ever replace you in our hearts. We already miss you more than you could know. I hope you’re running around like a wild girl with all the other border collies in doggo heaven 
Morgan & Patrick Fleming

So very sad but hopefully eye-opening to us all.

Northwest of Minot you'll find Lake Darling.  A nice man-made lake that provides recreation and water storage.  As a kid, I always looked forward to going up shore fishing with my family.  Clip a bobber on the line- toss it out and wait. Well, kids aren't much for just waiting around, especially when there are frogs hiding in the algae.  The thicker and slimier the algae all the better.

Don't be like young me. Don't play in the algae and don't let your pets do it either.

It all begins with cyanobacteria- which, like most things in nature, is beneficial to a healthy ecosystem.  The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality describes it like this.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms found in all types of water. They are more like bacteria than plants, but because they live in water and use sunlight to create food (photosynthesis) they are often called "blue-green algae."

Cyanobacteria thrive when the weather is warm and dry.  Under certain nutrient-rich environmental conditions, they can form a bloom. The presence of fertilizers, livestock and pet waste, septic systems, and more phosphorus-rich materials speed the process.  Slow-moving or stagnant water is the best-growing environment with the blooms usually collecting along the shore. The Missouri River doesn't hold much danger in its main channel.

Every year there are reports of pets and livestock dying from drinking water that is rich in Cyanobacteria. Generally, the most dangerous levels occur later in summer and early fall.

Only one North Dakota Lake is currently under investigation for HABs

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) can be monitored through the North Dakota Environmental Quality website by clicking here. Bookmark it to keep the info handy. The bloom season has not yet begun but please be aware of the possible risks. There are some area lakes that often make the HAB list in late summer or early fall.

If you wish to report seeing a possible HAB underway you can do so at the NDEQ site.

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