LOGAN — As Cache County Sheriff's Office mourns the passing of one of its K-9s, the sheriff is warning pet owners to be aware of the weeds that led to the dog's death.
"Foxtail weeds have barbed seed heads, and they can work themselves into any part of an animal's body. The danger with foxtail are the seeds do not break down once inside the body and can cause massive infection," according to a press release Friday from Cache County Sheriff's Office.
The 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, Storm, joined the office's K-9 team last year, the office said. On Tuesday night, he and his handler went to a public event to demonstrate their skills. The next morning, the handler noticed "a change in behavior" in the dog and took him to a local veterinarian.
The veterinarian noticed fluid around Storm's lungs and chest and suggested the dog be taken to a Salt Lake-area veterinarian, the release said.
That veterinarian discovered the K-9 had inhaled or ingested foxtail weeds, and the dog went under surgery to remove infected areas and weeds. Storm passed away during surgery.
"Both veterinarians said our handler caught this in the early stages and were optimistic Storm would be able to return to duty. It was a very unexpected circumstance that he passed away during surgery," the release stated.
A memorial service for the canine is being planned.
Cache County Sheriff D. Chad Jensen said he wants the community to be aware of the weed, which is "very prevalent in our state."
"I would like other pet owners to know what it looks like so they can safe guard their pets against this weed," he said. "Pet owners should check their pets' skin, hair, inside the ears and nose, and around the mouth and teeth of their pets. If there appears to be redness or swelling and they can't remove the seed, please contact their veterinarian for help."