TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area woman has a warning for all pet owners after she says her dog, within minutes, went from playing in the yard to dying.
“It was almost surreal, like this isn’t happening. And yeah, it happened,” said Cece Silva.
Silva says her healthy dog died in her front yard from licking a toad.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, overgrown brush – along with warm and wet weather – creates the perfect hideout spots for the invasive and deadly cane toad.
“She’s a fighter, she’s a trooper,” Silva said about her dog Macy, who has terminal cancer.
Silva was heartbroken when her healthy 9-year-old Chihuahua Bella died first.
“To go from nothing being wrong with her to dead, it was just so shocking,” said Silva.
Silva says Bella was in the yard of their Forest Hills, Tampa home when she collapsed and died in minutes.
“There was no life in her, you could tell she was already gone,” she said.
Silva says the culprit hopped away from the scene.
Florida Fish and Wildlife posted on Facebook Thursday warning that nocturnal cane toads, also known as the Bufo toads, have glands that release a poisonous milky toxin. If your pet licks or bites one, they recommend you wash the toxins out with a hose, wipe their gums and tongue with a towel and get them to the vet.
“She had a little bit of foam in her mouth and her gums were a little red,” Silva recalled.
The FWC says prevention is better than treatment. And you can prevent the toads from living in your yard by mowing and trimming your lawn, cleaning up outdoor pet food and water and watching that they don’t nose around bushes.
Silva already got a new dog, 6-week old Safira, but she says any time spent outdoors for Safira or Macy won’t be the same and she will be much more cautious.
“I’m forever going to be vigilant thanks to Bella. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way I guess. But I do want to tell others to be careful and please take care of your pets,” Silva said.
This story hit close to home for 8 On Your Side team member Melanie Michael.
“Seymore was wonderful. So quirky, so funny, such a good cuddler,” Michael said of her dog, who also died from a Cane toad. “It was brutal. He died a slow painful death, just over a year ago. I can barely talk about it without falling apart. He was my little buddy, I miss him every day.”
The FWC says the native southern toad will not harm pets. The way to identify the toads is by the glands: The southern toad has crests on its head and oval glands while invasive toads have no crests and triangular glands.
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