A COUPLE have spoken out about their ‘horrific’ experience after their young dog became the second to die this year following a walk at Anton Lakes in Andover.

On Saturday, August 13, James Brady, 34, and Patricia Gora, 29, from Tidworth decided to take their two dogs, Jack Russell Miniature Maple and Misty, a Bichon Frise, to Anton Lakes for an early morning walk before the temperature got too hot for them.

They left their Tidworth home at around 7am and were surprised to find that lots of dog walkers had had the same idea.

On entering the area, the couple chose to turn left, towards the bridge and as they were walking along the path, Maple found an area of water to splash in.

SEE ALSO: Andover couple whose puppy died just hours after walk at Anton Lakes send warning to dog owners

James, who works for a stairlift company, said: “She doesn’t go in the water a lot, but that day she was especially happy to be in there with her green ball.

“Just before the corner on the path that leads back to the car park, the ball rolled into the lake and she went to go and get it. And she must have ingested something.”

He continued: “At first she was fine, then as we continued the walk I was ahead with Misty and I heard Patricia shouting that something was wrong with Maple.”

Patricia, an army chef, added: “She looked at me and her eyes were rolling and her whole body started shaking. She was trying to find her balance but she couldn’t. I thought maybe it was the cold from the water so I tried to massage her.”

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James ran back to them and describes seeing Maple’s body “convulsing”.

“She was getting worse and worse. Her mouth was foaming and her heart beat was getting so faint.

“Someone came over to ask if we needed help and I asked if they could call an emergency number but there is no fast-acting emergency number for animals. We weren’t prepared but, at that stage, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. It was so fast.”

SEE ALSO: Owners of dog who died after Anton Lakes walk unhappy with TVBC investigation

James recalled “looking into her eyes and seeing the fear”, adding: “I could almost see the life go from her eyes. It was horrendous.”

Back at the car, Patricia attempted to resuscitate Maple as James drove to the nearest vet they could think of, not being from Andover, which was at Pets At Home.

James continued: “This was probably just before 8.30am and it wasn’t open yet. We were banging on the window and I was literally swearing, to show it was urgent - they probably thought we were robbing them! But they opened the door and they were fantastic.”

The vet worked to try and save Maple, giving her adrenaline and trying to assist her to breathe.

Andover Advertiser: Maple and MistyMaple and Misty

Patricia said: “I was very impressed with the way they reacted.”

Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done and, just 28 minutes after entering the water, Maple was pronounced dead.

James said: “We were both just crying in the pet store. All we were thinking was that we had lost our dog.

“Misty is struggling without Maple, I don’t thinks he understands that she’s not coming back.”

Patricia added: “I kept saying it was my fault because I thought it was from being too cold and getting hypothermia. But the vet said that was not likely, and that it was something she ate in the water.”

The couple added that the vet told them that Maple most likely ingested a toxin in the water.

Maple is the second dog this year to lose her life after spending time at the beauty spot - Jordan Shearman and Hannah Washington from Augusta Park lost their one-year-old Cocker Spaniel Roo in similar circumstances in April, prompting a borough council investigation into the presence of blue-green algae in the water.

Although the results came back as 20 times lower than the level of potential risk, James and Patricia said they had “no idea” of the previous investigation surrounding blue-green algae in the water, the presence of the algae or the associated issues for animals, and were not aware of the previous case.

SEE ALSO: Dog owners whose puppy died after walk at Anton Lakes 'extremely angry' that just one water sample was taken by council

James said: “There was no way to know, we never saw a sign. I went back two or three hours later, and I saw one sign at once entrance. It was literally a 50/50 chance and we made the wrong choice. If we’d gone the other way, we would have seen the warning sign.

Patricia added: “There should be signs around the entire lake.”

The couple have been in touch with Test Valley Borough Council, which has taken water samples.

James and Patricia are expecting their first child in October, and cannot afford to pay to have an autopsy carried out on Maple, so they may never get all the answers they want. However, they are now calling on the authority to improve its signage.

SEE ALSO: Vets issue seasonal warning about deadly blue-green algae risks

James said: “It happens once, you learn from it. It happens a second time and it’s negligence at that point. There is obviously something going on with the lake. I’m saying don’t stick up a laminated piece of paper, they’re obviously not staying up or built to sustain the elements. They might think everyone knows, but that doesn’t account for people like us, travelling into Andover.

“It’s a beautiful lake and a lovely place, but you currently don’t know the risks until it’s too late. Maybe this time, they will take it seriously.”

A spokesperson for Test Valley Borough Council, said: “We are aware of the sad passing of a dog following a visit to Anton Lakes and we are in touch with the owner. While we don’t know the cause of death, we have already collected water samples to test for blue-green algae and are awaiting the results. In the meantime, we have installed temporary notices advising people not to swim in the lake or allow their dogs to drink or play in the water on a precautionary basis.

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“We understand that people will be concerned as another dog passed away several months ago after a visit to the lakes. Although no formal cause of death was ever shared with us, we proactively took samples at the time from where the previous dog had entered the lake. The results showed there were extremely low levels of blue-green algae in the water – around 20 times lower than the guidance level for issuing warnings of a potential risk.

“Blue-green algae occurs naturally and there are commonly low levels present in ponds, streams, lakes and estuaries throughout the UK. It therefore remains important to note that there will always be some level of risk with any pet or person swimming in a natural body of water, particularly in hot and sunny weather when toxins are more likely to form in slow flowing waters. Unlike a swimming pool, where you can use chemicals to prevent toxins from developing, this is a natural lake in a nature reserve and it is managed as such, with various wildlife living in and around the water. We would therefore continue to encourage pet owners to follow the Kennel Club advice on water safety, which can be found on their website.

“The loss of any pet is devastating and our thoughts are with Maple’s owners.”