Dog Owners: Tel Aviv Pond Water Deadly

Two residents say dogs died after drinking from pond at Kiryat Sefer Park; city issues warning as safety precaution.

David Bachar

Tel Aviv residents say a pond in a city park is poisonous, but the city on Monday gave the all-clear.

Two Tel Aviv residents say their dogs died last week shortly after drinking from a man-made pond in the city’s Kiryat Sefer Park. Another resident says her toddler’s leg swelled up after he dipped it in the pond.

“Our dog drank from the pool last Shabbat and was probably the first one poisoned,” said Oded Nafhi of Tel Aviv. “It started with shaking legs, palpitations, foaming at the mouth, seizures and a temperature spike. The dog reached 43 degrees [109 degrees Fahrenheit] within a quarter of an hour. They kept her alive another two days." Nafhi says no autopsy was performed on his dog to determine cause of death.

After the residents reported the issues, the city on Friday warned the public not to drink from or swim in the pond for fear of poisoning. Wednesday's heat wave may have created an algal bloom in the pond in Kiryat Sefer Park, which could poison animals that drank from it, the city said. The city vet called on dog owners to keep their pets from drinking the water, the city said, adding that parents should not let their children enter the pond.

On Monday, the city told Haaretz that lab tests confirmed there was an algal bloom in the pond found no connection between it and the dogs deaths. "As of today all fear has been eliminated, after tests of all Tel Aviv-Jaffa pools were checked," the city said, referring to the nine man-made ponds in city parks. The city said it had issued a warning about the pond as a safety precaution.

Another resident described similar symptoms after her dog drank from the pond in Kiryat Sefer Park. “She was as fine as can be, playing and jumping, and then her leg started shaking a little, and within a minute, there was a full seizure and foaming at the mouth,” she said. “We went to the vet, but her condition was terminal. It was fatal poisoning.” The dog had drank from the pond several times previously without incident, she said.

A mother who lives in Tel Aviv blamed the pond for infecting her 16-month-old toddler. “We were in the Kiryat Sefer Park,” she said. “We were walking on stones, and his left leg missed the stone. He dipped it in the water. It was 6 in the evening last Sunday. On Monday, he got up with a huge, swollen leg.”

She said she took her son to the doctor, who said he must have gotten a bacterial infection by scratching a bug bite. The child was given antibiotics for a week. “It’s still not 100 percent, but it’s near the end,” she said. “The water is the only explanation. Everything there was a gross green, full of algae.”

The pond in Kiryat Sefer Park was opened to the public a year and a half ago, and contains algae, fish and frogs. Many children and pets are brought to the pond, particularly in the morning and afternoon. Signs installed near the pond before its opening warn against drinking from or swimming in it.

But visitors say parents and pet owners often ignore the signs. “I saw a mother putting her naked little child in these pools,” says Zehava Arzuan, a Tel Aviv resident. “You say something to people, and they look at you like you’re crazy.”