NEW ORLEANS — A Kenner man says he's on a mission, wishing he would have known about the dangers of a plant found in many yards in the New Orleans area.
After losing his dog, he says he wants to make sure other pet owners don't have to go through the same loss.
Three weeks ago David Scheuermann let his dogs — Cookie, Blue and Sofie — out in his back yard to play. Not long afterward, he said something was terribly wrong with one-year-old Sofie.
“I noticed when Sofie came inside she was gagging and threw up three times,” David Scheuermann said.
His regular vet treated her for GI problems, but two days later, symptoms got worse. They rushed her to the MedVet emergency clinic, but it was too late to save her.
“In a way, I felt guilty blaming myself because I kept letting the dogs go outside, but I still had no knowledge,” said Scheuermann.
The Scheuermann family had no knowledge of just how toxic the Sago Palm is to all animals and small children.
“All parts of the plant are toxic. We think that the highest concentration of the toxin is in the seeds themselves, but really any part of the plant is dangerous,” said Dr. Cody Mannino, a veterinarian emergency medicine specialist and Medical Director of MedVet New Orleans.
Mannino says the veterinarians at MedVet see many local pets poisoned by this common tropical plant.
“You see the effects of the ingestion within a few minutes to a couple of hours. If you see that severe vomiting and diarrhea and you have these plants in your environment, your red flag should be going off,” she warned.
Time is of the essence. Liver damage can happen in two days and nothing can be done.
David cut down his back yard Sago Palm, but Cookie got sick last week. He rushed her to treatment fearing she had eaten a stray seed. He is now planning to have what's left of the palm dug up and will remove the ones in his front yard to protect neighborhood pets.
He's also started the “Sofie's Sago Palm Project” Go Fund Me page.
“My goal initially is to get enough money to distribute a poster to every vet office in Louisiana, and then, expand it beyond that,” said Scheuermann.
It will be an educational poster with the plant's picture and a warning. so others don't have to lose their four-legged family members as he did.
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