If you're looking for a way for you and your pet to cool off, be careful before you jump into your local watering hole.

Stories have been making the rounds this week of toxic algae causing harm and even death to dogs. A story went viral on Facebook last week of a woman in North Carolina taking her dog swimming at a lake. On the way home the dog showed signs of distress and hours later the dog had passed away.

Similar stories have been reported in New Jersey and Texas.

The bodies of water that the dogs had been swimming in were contaminated with Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs.

According to the DEC, it's difficult to separate HABs to non-harmful blooms so they recommend if you see an algal bloom to stay away from it.  HABs tend to look like a green film on top of freshwater.

The DEC has a HABs data map where you can see archived and recent HAB blooms that have been reported.

The Yellow dots represent "HABs reported within the last two weeks, and may not reflect current conditions. HABs may be present in other places, or conditions may have changed since the HAB was reported. HABs may be present in all or parts of a waterbody. People and animals should avoid discolored water or surface scums."

Grey dots represent "archived HABs. These reports are more than two weeks old, but were reported this year (2019)."

If you think you see a Harmful Algal Bloom you can notify the DEC through their Suspicious Algal Bloom form on the DEC website.

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