CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A group of Cambridge Central School students saved a dog’s life by putting lessons in environmental science class to real-life use. After testing a local lake, the students detected some harmful cyanobacteria known as Anabaena in the water.

For years, teacher Steve Butz has been sharing testing data his students gathered at Hedges Lake with residents who live nearby, as well as the lake association. A unique comment on one of his Facebook posts about lake testing caught his eye.

“We drilled a hole through the ice and did our water testing, and then we posted a picture of it on Facebook,” Butz told NEWS10, “and one of the lake residents made a comment that said ‘hey, thanks for your work, and by the way, you just save my dog’s life.’”

The comment was from Marilyn Woodard, who lives on the lake with her husband and their dog, Belle. After seeing Butz’s post that his students found harmful bacteria in the water, she was able to take quick action when Belle made contact with an algal bloom in the lake.

“I looked down and there was, I thought, ‘A seaweed I’ve never seen before.’ While I was thinking that, it clicked: This is what Steve Butz posted,” Woodard recalled. “I knew to get her out right away.”

Remembering the bacteria is fatal to pets, she washed Belle off and called the vet. Luckily, exposure was minimal, and Belle didn’t get sick. “If I hadn’t read that—if Steve and his students hadn’t done that—our dog would’ve died,” Woodard said.

“I’ve been a teacher for 25 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this.  It was a great learning opportunity,” Butz said. “What a good deed for them to do for their own community.”