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Seminole Heights residents suspicious after several pets die

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — A 120-pound Rottweiler died in late April. A gray cat died a few days later after losing 8 pounds in a week. A Great Dane puppy died a couple of weeks ago, one day after getting sick.

The death count is at least two dogs and two cats. Another sick dog bounced back. All are in the same cluster of houses on the west ends of Fern and North Streets in Seminole Heights.

Residents find it odd that the deaths came so suddenly and sequentially. They suspect a connection. Some think their pets were poisoned.

But that's hard to prove.

Residents say police want documentation from an animal hospital before filing a report, but some veterinarians have to know what poison they're testing for first. Tampa police haven't received reports on poisoned animals in the area.

The call about a dead Great Dane mix prompted Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association president Jeff Harmon to raise an alert in the area. Harmon has three cats.

In Seminole Heights, homes without pets are the odd ones out. Owners walk their dogs around the block and to the park in the evenings. Cats roam.

Harley, the Great Dane mix, was a 7-month-old pup when she got sick. She was a Christmas present that grew to weigh 60 pounds.

Daniel Richards, who lives on W North Street, said she spent her days in the fenced-in back yard and slept next to him or in one of his sons' beds.

Harley was healthy until a Friday afternoon two weeks ago. She wouldn't eat. At 9:30 p.m., Richards found her under the house. She looked weak.

In the morning, she had bloody diarrhea. She looked dazed. Just like the dead Rottweiler.

Richards took her to Kindness Animal Hospital and came back with a syringe of medicine due four times a day. Harley died six hours later.

Harley also had hookworm.

That's probably what killed her, said veterinarian Fred Tellekemp. It could've been poison, but he doesn't think that's likely unless it was around the house.

Richards brought home a 4-year-old boxer for his kids on Sunday. Dax goes outside, but only on a leash.

Ileana Morales can be reached at imorales@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Seminole Heights residents suspicious after several pets die 06/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 19, 2009 9:14pm]
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