A devastated mother of three has warned others to be “very aware” of what grows in their gardens after their eight-month-old puppy was killed by eating a poisonous plant.
35-year-old Heather Glockling and her three children Leona (14), Jasmine (12) and three-year-old Oscar feel “completely lost” after Mochi was killed by the Ornithogalum or Star of Bethlehem plant just last week.
The plant is often confused with wild garlic because it has similar, glossy, dark green leaves that reach up to 12 inches in height and up to six millimeters wide.
However, the leaves have a distinctive white midrib or vein – and the plant produces white flowers with six petals that together resemble a star.
The family from Rendlesham, Suffolk believe the husky-Alsatian cross mochi accidentally ate some seeds of the plant when they got on their chewing bones after Heather mowed the lawn.
Mochi got sick last Tuesday and was barely able to walk or move the next day.
Heather took Mochi to the vet for surgery last Wednesday – but the poor puppy fell into a coma on the operating table and never woke up from liver failure.
And now Heather is warning other dog owners to look out for the nondescript white Star of Bethlehem plant, which starts to bloom this time of year and is highly toxic to dogs.
Heather said, “I didn’t even know this was in our garden because I didn’t know I had to keep an eye on it.
“I’m not an expert on what is poisonous to animals in plants. But every part of this plant is very poisonous to dogs.
“Even if you put this plant in a pot of water and then discarded the plant and let your dog drink the water, it would still be toxic.
“If you let your dog eat even a little of this plant, you are in a world of hell.
“We’ve been devastated since we lost Mochi. The house is so empty without her that we all feel very lost.”
Heather and her children moved to Rendlesham earlier this year with little mochi who had been a Christmas present for their daughter Jasmine.
They moved into one of Heather’s mother’s house that had been empty for two years and left the garden overgrown.
Heather said, “The garden was completely overgrown when we moved in, so I didn’t realize what was growing there – it was just a lot of work to make it look presentable.”
Heather said she went out to mow the lawn on Sunday May 16 when she accidentally left the seeds of the Star of Bethlehem scattered around the garden.
She said, “The problem is that the seeds multiply so quickly. Before you know it, a few scattered seeds can grow thousands of bulbs under the lawn.”
She added that the day after mowing the lawn, Mochi didn’t go outside – she was outside last Tuesday chewing on a bone.
Heather said, “We think some of the seeds must have gotten onto her bones when she was rolling around in the grass.
“On Tuesday evening, she vomited large lumps.
“We monitored her overnight and she seemed fine the next morning so we thought we had gone through the worst.
“But then, while I was at work, I got a call from my childminder that Mochi had started howling that screaming howl.
“I rushed home and Mochi wasn’t happy. She didn’t want to run and could barely move.”
Heather took Mochi to the vets last Wednesday night, where she was told that Mochi appeared to have a blockage of her liver and that they would try to operate on her.
But Mochi had seizures on the operating table and soon fell into a coma before her liver failed and she passed away in the wee hours of the last Thursday morning.
Heather said, “We searched absolutely everything in the house and garden to see what could have caused it before I saw the plant.
“I googled it and all of the symptoms matched what had happened.”
Now Heather says she plans to spray her entire garden to try and kill somewhere where the seeds of the Star of Bethlehem are scattered.
And after that, she wants to call in a landscaper to dig up all of the top soil before sowing it again.
And she said, “I want to warn others to be very clear about what is in their gardens and what plants and bulbs will show up in the spring.
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“If you can’t see something in your garden, take a look.
“Nobody should have to go through this. It’s awful, it’s such a heartache.”