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Another dog poisoning in area near East Union High campus
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Steven and Stacy Douglas say their five-year-old purebred black Labrador, June Bug, has been the victim of yet another dog poisoning in Manteca.

“We were told (by our veterinarian) that she was definitely poisoned, but he was not able to tell us what kind (of poisoning)” made their dog deathly ill on Monday, Stacy Douglas said.

The situation was so bad that the couple strongly believes their beloved pet would have died if they have not rushed her to the Modesto Veterinary Hospital in the nick of time.

“I am thankful that my husband and I had the day off on Monday to be home for her,” Stacy said.

It was her brother, Jesse James (“yes, that’s his real name, Stacy said with a laugh), who first noticed at 10:30 a.m. that there was something wrong with June Bug, she said.

James noticed the dog “acting weird,” she said.

“She could not walk with her back legs – she was stuck in a squatted position, and urine was constantly running out of her. She couldn’t control her urine. She was also having slight tremors. She is a loving dog, but if you went to touch her she would flinch, which is something she has never done,” Stacy recalled.

June Bug also could not stay still and was either lying down or sitting down and “had a swaying movement to her, and her eyes were almost in a crossed position,” she added.

“She was acting like a drunk dog; vomiting and diarrhea started within minutes” after exhibiting those symptoms, she said.

When things went from bad to worse for June Bug, the Douglases and James rushed the ailing dog to their veterinarian in Modesto.

“Dr. Bruce Johnson did the blood work and he confirmed that (June Bug) was poisoned; he just did not know how,” Stacy said.

“They ran every kind of blood work there was to run,” she said. But none of the blood work showed that the dog was poisoned by anti-freeze, she added. Besides, Stacy said, they don’t have any anti-freeze in the house.

“We have two small children – Alyssa who is 6, and Samantha, 7 ½ - so we don’t have anything poisonous in the house. Our cleaning supplies are all locked up so there’s no way for (June Bug) to get to any of these,” Stacy said.

The veterinarian could not be reached for comment as of press time Wednesday night.

The dog was given “a bunch of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory” medicine and had to spend Monday night at the veterinary hospital. The Douglas family brought June Bug home Tuesday night. They gave the dog anti-inflammatory medicine “because her stomach and uterus were swollen.”

“She responded to some of the medication, and after drinking lots of water to flush (the toxin) out of her body, she is recovering, thank goodness,” Stacy said.

As of Wednesday, the Douglases were happy to see significant improvement in their beloved June Bug.

“She’s so much better. She’s eating again. And she’s playing with her brother again, a chocolate Lab named Junior,” said a relieved Stacy.

“They still have their mother, Bella, who just turned 10,” she said.

Other dogs did not get sick

The Douglases said neither of their two other pets – Bella and Junior – got sick. “They all ate the same thing” that day, they said.

In light of the fatal and near-fatal pet poisonings that have occurred in Manteca since October, that was the first thing that came to their mind, the couple said.

“So we immediately went in the yard to see if, by chance, she could have gotten something. But our yard is clean; there was nothing,” said a baffled Stacy.

The veterinarian then asked the couple if they have walnut or almond trees on their property because “rotten walnuts or almonds are deadly to dogs,” she said.

But they did not have any of those trees. “In fact, we have no trees. And there are no trees like that in our neighborhood. We have a neighbor who just has a peach tree,” which is not toxic to dogs, the vet told the Douglases.

Suspicious person in the neighborhood

However, the Douglases were informed by a neighbor that around 10 o’clock Sunday night, as she was leaving to pick up her prescription medication at a 24-hour pharmacy in town, “she saw a strange man she’s never seen in the neighborhood wandering in the neighborhood,” Stacy said.

“In fact, she almost called us because she was a little afraid. She watched for a while, but when she got back from (the pharmacy), he was gone. We are a very close neighborhood,” added Stacy.

Neither the Douglases nor their neighbor called the Manteca Police to file a report about the suspicious person in their tight-knit neighborhood in the Sherwood subdivision northeast of the East Union High School campus. The other poisonings were to the southeast of the campus.

Family used utility-bill money to pay for pet’s hospitalization

The prognosis for June bug is good, according to the Douglas family. “As long as she keeps doing what she’s doing, we’re assuming she’s going to be OK. The diarrhea is still not solid-solid but its better. She’s keeping her food down, and she can walk and she can control her pee again. Her eyes are back to normal, but she has to take all her (prescribed) medication for the next two weeks,” Stacy reported.

Because of the medical emergency involving their pet, the couple said they were not able to pay their utility bills. But for all the medical attention June Bug received from the veterinary hospital, they only paid $300.

“That’s why we love our vet. He doesn’t charge you for anything unnecessary. He does it for the care of the animals; he doesn’t do it for the money,” Stacy Douglas said of Dr. Johnson who has been their veterinarian for the last four years.

When Bella, the mother Lab, had to have surgery in one ear, they took her to a Manteca veterinarian who charged them $1,100 for the procedure. After they met Dr. Johnson through the daughter of a family friend who worked at the Modesto Veterinary Hospital, they brought Bella there when her other ear needed the same surgical procedure. “Our bill was $217 for the same exact surgery,” Stacy said.

“So it’s worth the drive to Modesto,” she said.

Today, Stacy and Steven Douglas and their two daughters are counting their blessings.

“If my husband were at work on Monday, we probably would have lost our dog. But he was home early that day, thank God,” Stacy said.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call (209) 249-3536.