Although Illinois' state government is entirely aware of a silent killer in the Illinois River, you probably haven't heard a thing about it. That's because, other than a quiet news release on their website, the heads of the state are doing very little to inform and educate the public on the presence of microcystin, an algal toxin that can cause serious health issues like rashes, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing. And for our sweet pets, these toxins usually mean death.
Sign the petition if you want Illinois' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a real plan to protect the public and their pets from this poison through a wide release of easy to understand information immediately!
Right now, their own plan of action is to test the water again in the near future. But as warmer weather holds steady and folks flock with their dogs to the great outdoors for some much needed fresh air and physical activity, the 'near future' could be far too late for many pets. This algal toxin, microcystin, is produced by a blue-green algae bloom, which makes water appear colored and cloudy, and these blooms are notorious dog killers. Just last summer, some friends brought their three sweet pups to play in a pond in Wilmington, North Carolina. Unbeknownst to them, this pond was infected with a blue-green algae bloom. Abby, Izzy, and Harpo, two little terriers and a sweet poodle mix, splashed around, played, and drank the water happily. But 15 minutes after the end of the playdate, all three dogs suffered violent seizures and died. These toxins brutally attack the liver, and these sweet pups never stood a chance.
If these women had known to avoid this pond, their dogs would still be alive. Afterall, this algae is extremely visible to the naked eye. But they had no idea, and they lost their lifelong companions because of it. Melissa Martin, one of the dog owners, has made it her life's mission to spot these blooms in bodies of water, erect signs, and educate other dog owners of the dangers of blue-green algae. But doesn't that sound like the job for, say, an Environmental Protection Agency?
These harmful algae blooms occur in warm water, either during the summer months or whenever bodies of water are warmer than usual. With the inevitability of climate change, these blooms will only become more frequent. While the ultimate solution may be curbing global warming, an answer to so many (if not all) of our environmental woes, local governments must do what they can in the meantime to protect people and their pets from these poisons. Mapping out where the blooms are, erecting signs and fences, extensive reporting, and more frequent testing are all necessary.
Sign the petition to demand the Illinois EPA create a more comprehensive approach to informing the public of and protecting them from the algal toxins in the Illinois River!