Woman says dog found drug near Tigard school

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sam, a 2-year-old golden retreiver, is fully recovered after he reportedly ate marijuana-infused butter he found near the Tigard High School soccer field. The dog had seizures, stopped breathing and could not walk after he consumed the drug.A Tigard woman is warning dog owners to be careful after her dog nearly died from eating marijuana-infused butter it ate while on a walk.

Jan Larkins said her dog experienced seizures, stopped breathing and nearly died after he ate a stick of butter that had been infused with the drug.

It was Christmas Eve when Larkins decided to take her 2-year-old goldren retriever, Sam, for a walk around Tigard High School.

Sam was off his leash and running around the school’s soccer field when Larkins spotted him eating something near a set of bleachers.

“By the time I got to him, I saw him eating little squares of what looked like partially melted caramels,” she said.

The two continued on their walk, but Larkins said it wasn’t long before her dog began to get sick.

“He was completely out of it,” Larkins said.

After about an hour, Sam was unable to walk or stand and could not hold his head up.

Unsure of what was happening, Larkins took Sam to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin, where veterinarians were immediately able to determine what Sam had eaten.

“They asked me, ‘Did he get into your marijuana?’” Larkins recalled. “I thought he was joking.”

But it’s no joke, said Jon Wisniewski, a veterinarian at the clinic. The caramel that Larkins saw Sam eating was likely marijuana-infused butter, which is used in cooking.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to get a hold of pot-infused brownies, oils, butters or other items that their owners make, Wisniewski said.

“We see it quite a bit,” he said. “We see at least a couple of cases a week.”

Dogs that eat a small amount of the drug experience symptoms similar to humans, Wisniewski said. They have difficulty walking, are slow to respond and appear sedated.

But Sam’s reaction was different. Sam began having seizures during the night, and he wasn’t able to breathe on his own.

“For an animal to have a fatality, or for us to have a concern about it, they would have to eat a concentrated form of the drug, such as hemp oil, butter, cookies, that sort of thing,” he said.

The golden retriever made it through the night, and by Christmas morning, Sam had recovered enough to go home.

“He slept for a good 24 hours, and he was still kind of wobbly,” Larkins said.

It’s not clear how the butter made its way to the soccer field, but Larkins believes someone, possibly a student, may have left it behind.

Police officers stationed in Tigard-Tualatin schools have heard of the practice, said Jim Wolf, a spokesman for the department. Students were found eating the butter.

A few years ago, some students became ill after a classmate brought marijuana-infused butter to school and told them it was cookie dough, according to district spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon.

“The imagination of people and what people can do with this is incredible,” Wolf said. “They have been known to use gummy bears, Twinkies and several other things that were laced or somehow infused with cannabis oil.”

Most dogs exposed to marijuana-infused foods end up alright, Wisniewski said.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s something I don’t want dogs to get into at all, but if I had to pick, I would choose marijuana over some other illicit drugs they could get into that cause a lot more fatalities,” he said.

By all accounts, Sam’s exposure to the drug appears to have been accidental, but Larkins has been spreading the word to people at Tigard’s dog parks to keep an eye on their pets.

“I want people to know not to let their dog eat stuff when they are out,” Larkins said. “And if they do, to get them to a vet right away. Sam could have died.”

Sam is back to his old tricks and fully recovered, Larkins said.

“I don’t know how many brain cells he killed off, but he had the munchies when he woke up. That’s for sure,” Larkins said.

Wisniewski said it is important to know what your dogs are eating.

“The ones I worry about are Chihuahuas or Shih Tzus and other little dogs,” Wisniewski said. “It is a fairly safe drug, clinically, but combine it with a concentrated form in a small animal, and you are asking for problems.”

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