Durham, N.C. — 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.
"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.