Janna Joyner of Wake County, North Carolina, is dedicated to helping homeless dogs find forever homes. She works with them to help them trust humans again and get a second chance at life.
Anyone selfless enough to help dogs like this has to have a larger-than-life heart for animals. Joyner had a pack of her own, made up of both adoptees and foster fails.
The six dogs were her crew, and like any owner, she cherished them. But unbeknownst to her, something in her own backyard was waiting to claim two of their lives.
It’s a terrifying thought, that something in the safety of your own home, on your own property, could pose a threat to your furred family. Even worse, it wasn’t a venomous snake or a killer coyote — it was a plant.
When she got home on Sunday, the damage had already been done. Two of her beloved dogs, a Saint Bernard named Drago and a Labrador mix named Adoni were already gone, and the remaining four were acting ill.
Joyner’s friend Nicole Kincaid told a news source that “Adoni was her first baby. She adopted him from Wake County Animal Shelter. Drago was a foster of hers. We call it a ‘foster fail’ when they don’t adopt the dog out and they keep it for themselves.”
The heartbroken dog mom didn’t let her loss end with her own personal grief, though. She turned her tragic experience into a warning to other dog owners who may not be aware of the danger lurking in their own backyards.
“It’s with a heavy heart I tell you all that I lost two of my pack members yesterday,” she posted on Facebook. “The main reason I’m posting about it so soon, is that I’m hoping my post can save ONE dog. Please, Please, PLEASE clear out all mushrooms from your yard.”
“Adoni and Drago passed away after ingesting Death Angel (Amanita virosa) mushrooms in my own back yard. The toxins in these mushrooms will cause liver failure in dogs. There isn’t an antidote necessarily, so you just have to manage the symptoms.”
A toxicology professor at N.C. State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, David Dorman, also chimed in with some more details on the deadly fungus. “The really toxic ones are called Amanita mushrooms.”
“A dog that consumes those mushroom can go from healthy to very clinically sick, to dead within 24 to 48 hours,” he said. “So it’s a very rapid disease syndrome.”
Since the mushrooms come in a variety of appearances, the safest thing to do is to check for mushrooms and dispose of any you find. Even people out scavenging for mushrooms to eat often mix up the harmless and harmful varieties.
Dorman cautioned that it’s “always best to cut them, bag them and throw them away. And then wash your hands yourself so you don’t get exposed.”
It’s horrible that this devoted dog mom had to go through this ordeal, but use this as a warning to keep an eye out for hazards on your own property. Despite the sorrow Joyner has experienced, she is thankful for the people who have come to her aid during this difficult time.
“I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received from my family, friends, and my fellow animal rescuers,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “From flowers, to hugs, to phone calls, to texts, to a fundraiser…I’m just so thankful to have some many wonderful people in my life. Thank you for all your kindness!”
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