A devastated mum-of-three has warned others to be “very aware” of what is growing in their gardens – after her eight-month-old puppy was killed by eating a poisonous plant.
Heather Glockling, 35, and her three children – Leona, 14, Jasmine, 12, and three-year-old Oscar – have been left feeling “totally lost” after Mochi was killed by the Ornithogalum, or Star of Bethlehem, plant just last week.
The plant is often mistaken for wild garlic, due to its similar, shiny, dark green leaves, which can reach up to 12 inches in height, and up to six millimetres wide.
However, the leaves have a distinctive white midrib, or vein – and the plant produces white flowers with six petals that collectively resemble a star.
The family, from Rendlesham, Suffolk, believe Husky-Alsatian cross Mochi had inadvertently eaten some seeds from the plant when they got onto her chew bone, after Heather mowed the lawn.
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Mochi started being sick last Tuesday, and by the next day could barely walk or even move.
Heather rushed Mochi to the vets last Wednesday for an operation – but the poor pup went into a coma while on the operating table, and never woke up after suffering liver failure.
And now Heather is warning other dog owners to be on the lookout for the unassuming white Star of Bethlehem plant – which starts to flower at this time of year, and is highly toxic to dogs.
Heather said: “I didn’t even realise this was in our garden, because I didn’t know I needed to keep an eye out for it.
“I’m no expert on what is poisonous to animals, plant-wise. But every part of this plant is very poisonous for dogs.
“Even if you were to put this plant in a pot of water, and then discard the plant and let your dog drink the water, that would still be poisonous.
“If you let your dog consume even a little bit of this plant, you’re in a world of hell.
“We’ve been devastated since we lost Mochi. The house is so empty without her, we all feel very lost.”
Heather and her children moved to Rendlesham at the beginning of this year with little Mochi, who had been a Christmas present for her daughter Jasmine.
They moved into a house owned by Heather’s mum – which had been empty for two years, allowing the garden to become so overgrown they weren’t aware of what was growing.
Referring to when she mowed the grass, Heather said: “The problem is that the seeds multiply so quickly.
“So before you know it, you could have thousands of bulbs growing under the lawn from a few scattered seeds.”
Heather rushed Mochi to the vets last Wednesday evening, where she was told the pup appeared to have a blockage to her liver, and surgeons were going to try and operate on her.
But Mochi started having fits on the operating table, and soon fell into a coma, before her liver failed and she passed away in the early hours of last Thursday morning.
Heather said: “We scoured absolutely everything in the house and in the garden to try and find out what could have caused it, before I saw the plant.
“I Googled it and all the symptoms rang true to what had happened.”
Now, Heather says she plans to spray her whole garden to try and kill off anywhere where the Star of Bethlehem seeds may have scattered to.
And after that, she is looking to bring in a landscaper to dig up all the top soil, before reseeding it.
She said: “If you don’t recognise something in your garden, check it out.
“Nobody should have to go through this. It’s horrible, it’s such a heartbreak.”