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Articles by Freelance writer Rebecca Renner

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It was a sweltering late summer day in southern Florida when Becky Harris took her dogs to run along the bank of the St. Lucie River. Her white Pomeranian, Pandora, was off leash while Kylie, her Rottweiler mix, trotted alongside her. Suddenly, Pandora took off down the grassy hill toward the beach and was soon tearing into a dead fish. Harris tried to yank it out of her mouth, but Pandora bolted under the sea grapes to polish it off.

Within hours, the normally bouncy Pandora was so lethargic that her head fell into her water bowl. Harris took Pandora to the closest veterinary ER, where the little pooch stayed overnight. By the next day, Pandora’s liver was failing. Harris already suspected the cause: the toxic algal bloom. Gunk full of blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria had spewed from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River near her home in Stuart, a short drive north of West Palm Beach. Even though there hadn’t been any algal deposits visible on the beach that day, a rotten stench hovered around the river’s banks.

Pandora was the first of many dogs in the area to come down with similar symptoms. The next night, another dog arrived at the same ER. Within tw... Read more

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