Investigation into dog 'poisoning by algae' at riverbank in O'Brien's Bridge

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Investigation into dog 'poisoning by algae' at riverbank in O'Brien's Bridge

INVESTIGATIONS are underway into the possibility of “poisonous” algae or scum, appearing around the riverbank at O’Brien’s Bridge, which is potentially responsible for the deaths of a number of dogs in recent times. 

Gardai in Ardnacrusha recently received a report that a dog died after it consumed a substance in the O’Brien’s Bridge area.

Claims have been made by locals that this could be as a result of a “poisonous” algal bloom.

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said that it was investigating the incident.

A spokesperson for the ESB told the Limerick Leader that gardai contacted ESB Ardnacrusha in relation to a dog being poisoned “possibly on ESB lands". 

"An ESB staff member was dispatched to investigate further. The area in question is around the west bank of the river Shannon at O’Brien’s Bridge and not on ESB-owned lands,” the spokesperson said.

"The ESB staff member noted to gardai that there was algal scum at the water’s edge in the area in question.  This observation was made in order to assist the gardai, who are leading the investigation into these poisonings. The area is not under ESB control and ESB has no expertise in toxicology.”

When contacted by the Leader in relation to the incident and the possibility of “poisonous” algal bloom, a spokesperson for Clare County Council said it “will be speaking with ESB Ardnacrusha to identify and examine the location where the algal scum was reported.

"Should the existence of algal scum on public land be confirmed, Clare County Council will erect signage advising the public to keep their livestock and animals away from the relevant riverside location”.

In September, gardaí issued a warning to dog owners from Limerick and Clare to be vigilant when out walking on the Headrace Canal between Ardnacrusha and Clonlara bridge.

A number of complaints were received after several dogs were allegedly poisoned in the locality.

Meelick-based councillor Cathal Crowe said that the issue of dogs being poisoned has been a “recurring problem” over the past two years. He said it is “distressing”  as some people are reluctant to walk their dogs in the area.

He said that laboratory testing is required in order to reassure locals and pet owners.

“Most dog owners have a dog on a leash and are responsible, in general. And I think what we have seen in the last two years or so, there are poisons being laid. That is a fact. There would be chicken laced with poison along some of the walkways. There have been bits of chicken, chicken wings, chicken drumsticks that have been laced with poison in the locality.

“But now there is a possibility that there could be a poisonous algal bloom. But that is an entirely different manifestation, and really, they need to lab test that very quickly. That needs to be prioritised.

"You can see the bits of meat on the ground that poison animals, but if there is a natural thing happening, it’s entirely different. It has wider repercussions because there are many people using that waterway for a variety of reasons,” adding that people still swim in nearby waters and draw their well supplies from the area.