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2-year-old mastiff dies; anti-freeze poisoning is suspected
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A two-year-old, 130-pound Mastiff breed canine is the latest family pet in the Park West neighborhood to die Monday morning after displaying symptoms of anti-freeze poisoning believed to have occurred in their back yards.

Two Trailwood Avenue women patrolled the greenbelt behind their homes Monday night and called police when they reportedly saw someone throw unknown objects into two back yards from the park area behind their homes.

Veronica Peknik and Katrina Sotomayor both lost animals to anti-freeze attacks and want it to stop.  Peknik said police responded and talked with a teen back in the green belt who told them he had only been throwing grapes into the yards.

 She was unconvinced and took it upon herself to canvas Aspen Drive knocking on doors and asking residents to check their back yards, saying she didn’t want anyone else to go through the horrible scenario she suffered.  

“I followed the man.  I watched him put things in two different (back) yards on Aspen.  He was hanging out in the dark corners of the park,” she said.

“Moose,” the latest victim, was a lumbering companion to the two children – 13 and seven years old – in the Diaz family.  They live in the 1300 block of Bunker Lane, also in the Park West subdivision, just across the green belt from Trailwood.   The Mastiff began to show symptoms Saturday similar to those of a neighbor’s St. Bernard.

Johanna Diaz said when she first noticed her dog getting sick, she thought he had eaten something that disagreed with him and she let it go.  After talking with a neighbor Charlene Sherman, who lives in the 1300 block of Trailwood Avenue, she realized the symptoms were very much alike.

The Sherman family’s St. Bernard had been taken to a vet in time and received medication and treatment advice to help their dog survive.  She had some of the medication and Pedi Light left over and offered it to the Diaz family, but the dog wouldn’t swallow the medication, ice cubes or the water, Diaz said.  The effort was to keep the animal hydrated as much as possible to flush out its kidneys and lessen the reaction to the toxic anti-freeze.

Poisoned dogs within
close proximity
Police said it was interesting to note that all of the poisonings occurred on a Friday and all within a close neighborhood proximity.   Veronica Peknik also lives on Trailwood across the street from the Shermans and their St. Bernard.  She lost her AKC Boston Terrier to the same fate two weeks ago and spent some $2,200 in vet bills in her attempt to save her companion.

Diaz said she was told to watch for her Mastiff vomiting blood or showing blood in the stool.  When that did not manifest itself at first, she said she felt that was a good thing.  However, on Sunday those symptoms appeared and the dog became very lethargic and seemed depressed.  

“Charlie,” a loveable chocolate lab, already lived in the Diaz home when “Moose” moved in a couple of months ago.  The family said the lab began to “hover” over the Mastiff after he had gotten sick, seeming to be acting to protect him against the inevitable.   Alonzo Diaz said the lab would move out of the way when the larger dog began to be sick, but was right back over him in a protective stance.

The senior Diaz said they had called a vet who told them it would cost a minimum of $300 to treat the dog saying they just didn’t have that kind of money.  They opted to go with the medication their neighbor had offered them, but it didn’t serve well when their dog refused to take it down.

Before taking her children to school Monday morning the Bunker Lane resident said she checked “Moose” and he seemed to be doing better.  When she returned home she found him dead on the stoop to the rear sliding door.

Her husband took the day off work so they could break the bad news to the children who cried at the shock as a sympathetic charcoal lab apparently thought licking them would make it all better.

Katrina Sotomayor, who lives a block to the north on Trailwood Avenue, said her family lost a Golden Retriever/Lab mix and a family cat to apparently the same fate in March.  She said she and her husband had adopted the animals from her mother-in-law who could no longer care for them.

She recalled that within two days at their home they both exhibited the anti-freeze symptoms and died.  No one in the family agreed that it was probably poisoning, she said.  Now it all adds up, she noted.

Both pets stopped eating and acted depressed, she said. The dog had been her husband’s pet since he was only 13, she added.  At first they thought it was just age, until the calico died shortly thereafter.

The victims all have kids. Who ever is poisoning the dogs must be very cold hearted, she said.

Animal control officer Les Rowe walked the green belt park area behind the homes during the afternoon Monday and located a baggie that continued blood, he said, along the walkway between Trailwood Avenue and Bunker Lane.  The baggie’s contents are being analyzed, police said.

A patrolman and the watch commander joined Rowe in interviewing neighbors along both streets who had been victims in the rash of poisoning.

Charlene Sherman and her husband Josh had walked the neighborhoods around their home on Sunday and handed out 100 fliers warning residents of what symptoms to look for should their pets suddenly become ill.

It was their St. Bernard “Nana” that became ill after being poisoned Oct. 1.  “She survived but is still weak and scared to go into our yard alone,” Sherman said.

“She was fine until about 6 p.m. that evening, then she started to be very lethargic and her eyes looked sunken and she wasn’t acting right.  She could barely walk; she was so uncoordinated.  After rushing her to a vet they were informed, based on her test and symptoms, she had ingested anti-freeze,” the woman said.

Sherman added that she and her husband found a meat wrapper in their yard that was foil and had a sell-by-date printed on it.  A neighbor who lost their dog to the poison found a plastic bag in the yard, she said.  After warning a few neighbors they learned about others, she added.  

“This is a devastating thing to watch your pet go through,” she said.  
What to look for
with anti-freeze
Symptoms to watch for in anti-freeze poisoning include: Being lethargic, showing signs of depression, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, weakness, stumbling, uncoordinated movements, seizures, convulsions, tremors, fainting and coma.

A call by the Bulletin to the Park West Homeowners Association office brought a no-comment reaction.  The clerk who answered the phone said she did not know of any animal poisonings in the neighborhoods and suggested her manager would be best to field such questions.  The manager never came to the phone.

Manteca Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the responsible party in the poisonings.  A reporting person may remain anonymous in calling Crime Stoppers at 823-4636.