A Bellingham family's two pugs died after eating poisonous mushrooms and they want to get the word out so other familys don't have to go through the same experience.
Bill and Renee Bliss say Milo, age 8, and Maggie, age 10, were dearly loved pets.
"They were loved and loved our family in return," said Bill.
On Nov. 2, unbeknown to their family, the two dogs ate poisonous mushrooms in the back yard.
"Milo died that day," Bill said. "Maggie spent a week in the hospital before passing."
Bill says the dogs received excellent care at local hospitals, and an investigation into the cause of Milo and Maggie's deaths lead him to the Washington Poison Center.
Dr. Donna Mensching advised him to collect the mushrooms from his yard and have them identified by a mushroom expert. She also recommended that the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory analyze Milo's vomit for the presence of mushrooms.
“Unless (veterinarians) know exactly what it is they don’t’ know how to treat it,” Renee said. “They were treating the symptoms.”
Some of the mushrooms found in the yard were identified as poisonous and the experts confirmed the presence of Inocybe species, possibly Inocybe mixtilis.
Inocybe species were identified in Milo's vomit.
"All are very poisonous to dogs," Bill says. "Little did we know."
"Maggie’s clinical signs were a mixture of those caused by Inocybe species and a second type of poisonous mushroom causing liver failure, so we suspect she had access to both."
The next step was to remove the problem in the yard.
“We picked a gallon-and-a-half of mushrooms. It was some I’d never seen before,” said Renee.
Mushrooms grow in wet areas where there is decaying organic material or in association with many trees, and prime growing season is in the spring and fall.
"If you see them, pick them completely to the root, so your family and pets don’t have to go through the grief that our family has suffered," Bill says.
Local gardening expert Ciscoe Morris says there's no product that will kill mushrooms.
"The only way to rid your garden of them is to pick them, but they'll come back the following year," he said.
"You have to remove them from anywhere your pooch has access," he said.
In their grief, Bill and Renee want to get the word out about the threat to both pets and children.
"I hope everyone will pay close attention so not a single pet (or unsuspecting small child) dies because of this innocent mistake," Bill said.
If you think your pet or child has eaten something poisonous, call the Washington Poison Center (800-572-5842 for pets; 800-222-1222 for people) as soon as you know an exposure has occurred.