WILMINGTON, NC. (CBS) -- Three dogs in North Carolina died last week after swimming in a pond that had blooms of blue- green algae. 

The dogs, Abby, Izzy and Harpo meant the world to their owners Denise Mintz and Melissa Martin.

But after taking their dogs to play at a Wilmington, NC. pond... The joy shattered in just minutes.

"I brought him upstairs to give him a bath, and Denise brought the two little dogs upstairs to get there bath next, and she started yelling for me that something was wrong with Abby, one of the westies," said Martin. 

The dogs started to have seizures, so they rushed them to the vet.

Less than five hours later, all three dogs were dead.

"They just needed to cross that rainbow bridge together, as the trio that they were," said Martin. 

The animals were poisoned by something lurking in the water-- a microscopic bacteria called blue-green algae. It mostly infests waters when the weather is warm and releases toxins that can cause liver damage, respiratory paralysis, and organ failure, among other deadly conditions. 

In recent weeks, several dogs have been poisoned across the south. 

An Australian shepherd named Fina, died less than a hour after ingesting toxic algae in the Guadalupe river outside Austin, Tx. 

In Marietta, Ga., this border collie, Arya suffered the same heart-breaking fate.

"Know your pets, and you know when somethings not right. I just didn't think it was this not right," said Fina's owner.

Dogs and children are said to be the most likely to ingest the toxins while swimming.

Abby, Izzy, and Harpo's owners set up a fundraiser to purchase signs and put them in front of contaminated water.

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