Dog's death prompts woman's petition

Posted June 9, 2012

— A Durham woman has turned the death of her dog into a crusade to prevent a similar loss for other families. Kristen Teer said Toffee, a six-pound Chihuahua, died after ingesting a Sago Palm berry.

They were vacationing in South Carolina and decorative Sago Palms proved too enticing for Toffee. 

Since her dog's death, Teer has made it her mission to make sure other pet owners don't suffer the same sudden, sad surprise. She is pushing for warning labels on Sago Palms sold in home improvement stores and nurseries.

Woman warns of Sago Palm danger Woman warns of Sago Palm danger

"I just want education for the consumers," she said.

She has spread the word to friends and family and, via Facebook, to her wider social network. She said she plans to print up postcards to give to pet owners. 

"This is no messing around," Teer said. "I just don't want any family to suffer like we did, because we had to watch our family pet die in our arms and it was really, really sad."

Sago Palms, which are popular in Southern landscaping, are toxic to cats, dogs and even horses. According to the ASPCA, eating Sago Palm can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma, seizures and lack of coordination. Most pets exposed to the plant won't survive.


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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 18, 2012

    Plus, you will note that some plants are toxic to cats, but not to dogs or horses; likewise some are toxic to dogs, but not to cats or horses; some to horses, but not to cats or dogs.

    So signs aren't going to work; parent/pet owner research and responsibility will.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 18, 2012

    Personally, I think it's the responsibility of every parent and every pet owner to KNOW what plants are toxic and to keep them away from those things. I know which are, without a bunch of little signs, and have known for years. Just go to Google and put in "toxic plants" and over 566,000 websites come up. Do your own homework to be sure. Don't trust others to put little signs on everything for you.

  • lprop Jun 12, 2012

    Every responsible pet owner will commend Ms. Teer for what she is doing. If the abused animals could only talk would that not be a blessing.

  • Scubagirl Jun 12, 2012

    oh yea, and to all you who say she should have done research BEFORE hand, well she went on VACATION!!! In this instance I think that areas where people bring their pets, and pay money to do so, should put little signs out by toxic plants on their property.

  • Scubagirl Jun 12, 2012

    geez, there are some narrow minded folks posting here!

    I think what she is doing is a great idea! Putting toxic on the growing instruction tag is a good idea as many have no idea what they are buying might injure or kill their pet OR CHILD! If a plant is toxic to a dog chances are better than good that it is also toxic to children. All these parents who say 'oh, I watch my child ALL THE TIME' phooey! no way can you do that, but I hope for your sake that this 24/7 watched child never puts something harmful in their mouths, ears, noses .......

  • SisterChristian Jun 11, 2012

    I back you 100% Kristen Teer and am so sorry about your beloved dogchild, Toffee. As for the people posting about their dog's dying and just replacing them like a cruel and cold. I seriously doubt any decent rescue or shelter would allow you to adopt from them? I would assume you are replacing dead animals by buying from puppymills or backyard breeders which are only in it for the $. You are being investigated and once found out will be added to the pet-abuse site and will not be allowed to own anymore animals in this state. RIP Toffee, you had your own personality and you can never be replaced. I am a firm believer animals beat most humans to heaven. They know how to love unconditionally something most humans never master.

  • SunAndSky Jun 11, 2012

    I am thankful that Ms. Teer is thoughtful and caring enough to think of others during this time that is so sad for her. I am telling everyone I know about the Sago Palm danger and emailing them this story. I think some people reading it think that she purchased the plant without researching it, but it's clearly stated that they came into contact with it while on vacation. My heart goes out to her and she will never know how many lives might be saved by her going public with this story and her efforts to get this plant labeled.

  • ladyblue Jun 11, 2012

    I have had a couple of mine die also, but I just got another one and moved on. No crying, and being devasted, and calling in sick from work. Just move on and let a pet be a pet!!

    I think you mean move on and let a dog be a dog as if you truly had and LOVED pets(big difference in owning an animal and having one loved as a family member)you would not be commenting as you did. I guess your dobermans were yard dogs that you feed and spoke to on the way out the yard to for the animal dying I think it's wise to research ALL plants that are toxict but if this woman wishes to warn the other pet owners let her's her way of feeling she's doing something for others to not go through what she did. it's not costing anyone anything,

  • not my real name Jun 11, 2012

    a little bit of plant research beforehand would have saved her all this trouble. Would you put a kid in a room with an unknown plant and just assume it's ok if he eats it? kids and dogs eat just about anything they can, or at least put it in their mouths. With google on everyone's phone it would have only taken a few minutes to figure it out before it was too late.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 11, 2012

    SunandSky - I have often said and I believe, one can get a tiny glimpse of heaven in the eyes of a loving pet.

    I wish others noticed that.