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Pet attacker still on prowl
Latest dog poisoning victim from southwest Manteca
Sundae, Karen and Glenn Hrmadko’s Queensland Heeler and Jack Russell terrier mix, appears to be the latest victim in the recent rash of anti-freeze poisonings. - photo by Photo Contributed

Karen and Glenn Hrmadko rescued their Queensland Heeler and Jack Russell terrier mix nine years ago. They picked him up at the non-profit Pets and Pals in Lathrop which found the abused canine when he was two years old.

Tragically, the Hrmadkos could not save their beloved pet from the ultimate abuse committed by unknown perpetrators days before Thanksgiving. 

A week to the day before the holiday, they rushed their pet, Sundae, to their veterinarian who made a valiant attempt to save their faithful four-legged friend.

But after four frantic days of combined veterinary medical efforts and tender loving care by the Hrmadkos, which included three days of hospital intravenous treatments, the couple ended up losing the kind canine they described as “like our baby” for nearly a decade. Karen Hrmadko was there when their longtime canine companion was finally put to sleep, cradled in her arms.

Glenn Hrmadko said their veterinarian confirmed that Sandae was the victim of anti-freeze poisoning.

“That was the first thing he said,” Karen Hrmadko recalled.

For three days in a row before the day they took their dog to the vet’s clinic, “he was getting sick and was throwing up his meals,” she said.

During those three days, she said Sundae was his usual self. “He was walking; he was normal except he was throwing up his meals. That was the only weird thing; he wouldn’t eat. We’d go for a walk and he still would go poo. So I thought, well, I think probably he ate another gopher, because he’s done that before.”

After the first visit to the vet, the Hrmadkos were able to bring their sick Sundae home. But the dog only got worse, and on Sunday, they took him back to the Animal Clinic which turned out to be closed. So they ended up at Central Valley Veterinary Hospital where they ran some tests. But then it was too late for Sundae.

“His whole kidney was gone. The doctor said they tried to save him, but he was anemic. He said, ‘we can’t regenerate the liver.’ They tried flushing him but he was too far gone,” Karen Hrmadko said.

She and her husband not only lost their constant companion for nearly a decade; they also spent nearly $1,000 trying to save his life.

How dog was poisoned
still remains a mystery

The Hrmadkos are at a total loss as to how and why their dog was poisoned by anti-freeze. Sundae was mostly a house dog, but every now and then they allowed him outside but always on a leash.

“We always kept him in the front yard in a chain. He was, at least, 10 feet from the sidewalk so he could never hurt anybody. Everybody in the neighborhood knew him; he was friendly,” said Karen Hrmadko, a former hospital dietitian.

“He loved seeing the (neighborhood) kids walk to school. I’m sure they are going to miss him, too. He barked a lot but everybody knew he was just being friendly because his tail was wagging as though he was saying, ‘come pet me, come pet me please.’ He liked the kids especially,” she said.

They let him outside to enjoy the sun only in the mornings when the day has warmed up, she added.

“He loved to lie out there in the sun. He used to like lying out there and just watch the neighborhood,” she said.

The Hrmadkos have been aware of the rash of anti-freeze poisoning involving residents’ cats and dogs that has been occurring since early October.

They have heard of the incidents where the suspected perpetrators had reportedly thrown tainted meat in people’s back yards.

“How could somebody do that? I just didn’t understand why somebody would do that,” Karen Hrmadko said.

She told the veterinarian that she had “never known Sundae” to eat any food from a stranger.

“But the doctor said it only takes just a touch of the tongue” for a pet to become a victim of anti-freeze poisoning, she said.

And while her husband had been working on his car before the incident involving their pet Sundae, she said “there was no way he could have gotten anti-freeze” during that time because her husband was working “nowhere near the radiator.”

The death of the Hrmadkos’ dog is the latest incident since early October when a rash of anti-freeze incidents involving residents’ pets started happening in the northeast part of town. At least two dogs and one cat died, and two were saved in the northeast Manteca incidents. Two other cats belonging to two owners in an East Sutter Street neighborhood and were also suspected of anti-freeze poising were saved as well.

The incident involving the Hrmadkos’ dog was the first reported from the other side of town. The Hrmadkos, who used to live in the San Juan Street residential enclave near the Union Pacific Railroad off West Center Street, moved just a few months ago to the quiet neighborhood just south of West Yosemite Avenue on the east side of South Union Road where they bought a home. The houses here were built in the 1960s. Some of the original homeowners still live in the neighborhood, and the Hrmadkos say the neighbors, especially the school children, had been really friendly with Sundae during the times they let him out in the front yard on a leash.

Karen Hrmadko thinks what happened to their 9-year-old pet was the work of “a copycat, just somebody that didn’t like Sundae.”

She said she was both “mad and sad” about the loss of their dog.

“That’s your baby! They still become your kids whether you like it or not,” she said..

A dog named Dusty who is
like Toto in ‘Wizard of Oz’

The Hrmadko household is once again the playground of another dog rescued by the Pets and Pals in Lathrop where they adopted him a few days after losing Sundae.

“My God, I can’t go without a pet dog,” said Karen Hrmadko who has already fallen in love with the puppy that she fondly described as “crazy and a nut case” because of his penchant for acting like a goat.

“He jumps around like an alpine goat. They say he’s a terrier mix. But if you look at him, he just looks like Toto in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ except he’s small. But he looks just like Toto – black with a white spot on his chest, then this little V on his forehead,” she said.