Kaysie Hearn and her new dog, Jake, are perfectly at ease in her Tulare yard, but amid the serene landscaping sits a toxic plant. Hearn's two other dogs, Roxy and Gunner, died last year after ingesting pieces of a Sago Palm.
Both dogs began vomiting and were rushed to an emergency vet. Gunner died within days but Roxy lived on for a few months, eventually dying of liver failure just days after Hearn's wedding. Before their deaths, Hearn had no idea the Sago Palms were poisonous. "I still hurt everyday when I think of either of them," said Hearn.
Dr. Chris Dobbins of Fresno Pet E.R. calls Sago Palms the most dangerous of the poisonous plants here in the Central Valley. "Most of the other plants are going to cause some GI upsets... so vomiting, diarrhea, maybe a bit of drooling or things like that. Maybe they'll have some ulcers in the mouth from the actual chemical touching them. But by far, the Sago Palm is the deadliest we see," said Dr. Dobbins.
Dr. Dobbins said the entire plant contains toxins, from the fronds to the root ball. Ingestion isn't always fatal but treatment can be costly. "By the time they get to full blown liver failure, it's a pretty guarded prognosis and it's probably going to cost a fair amount to be able to treat them," said Dr. Dobbins.
Hearn's dogs are now buried in her backyard. Since their deaths, she started a Facebook campaign to educate others about the dangers. Sometimes, she even knocks on doors to educate other pet owners. "I should have paid attention and i should have done my research. But I didn't and I think I learned a hard lesson so i could get the word out there so none else has to go through that," said Hearn.