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News Channel 3 In-Depth: Pets on Meth

In light of National Pet Poison Prevention Week, a Palm Desert woman has an urgent warning after she recently rushed her dog to the animal hospital to find something she never expected: Her dog had ingested meth. And veterinarians say this is becoming increasingly common.

El Paseo is one of the Coachella Valley's most high-end streets, full of luxury stores, boutiques, and restaurants. But it's also where Teresa Flaum said her beloved six-year-old lab, Oliver, could have been killed.

"Especially on El Paseo it was the last thing I would have imagined," she told News Channel 3's Peter Daut.

Flaum said she walks the 60-pound dog down El Paseo nearly every morning. He recently stopped outside the Starbucks near San Pablo, where she noticed he briefly smelled and tasted something on the sidewalk. Just moments later, she said he became erratic.

"He was panting, his eyes were dilated, his head was kind of going back and forth, he wasn't responding to his name, and I couldn't get him to drink any water," she said.

Worried that Oliver was having some type of panic attack, Flaum said she rushed him to a nearby veterinary urgent care.

"The vet actually looked at him immediately and said he looked like he was on meth. So they did a blood test and a urine test, and it came back positive for meth." Daut then asked Flaum,"What went through your mind?" She responded: "I didn't believe it actually. I was completely shocked, and it was the last thing I would have pictured that he would have ingested."

Dr. Rick Klomhaus is a veterinarian at Animal Samaritans. While he did not treat Oliver, he said he's seen other animals come in after ingesting drugs. "I'm concerned because of the recent increase in drug usage among people that we're going to see potentially more exposure to pets, and therefore pets are at a greater risk," he said.

"What are some of the symptoms of dogs who are on drugs?" Daut asked him. Klomhaus replied: "So Amphetamines specifically, they often show agitation, elevated heart rates, drooling, dilated pupils, sometimes they can progress to the point they are so aggressive that they'll attack people or injure themselves or other animals."

Daut also asked Klomhaus, "What do people need to do to make sure their pets are protected and safe?" He replied: "If you can, try to keep them as close to your person as possible, not having those really long leashes where they're able to go under bushes and behind things that you cannot see them. So a nice tight leash as you're walking them along." 

Three days in the animal hospital and $6,000 later, Oliver is now back to his normal, healthy self. Ironically, as Daut walked with Flaum and Oliver down El Paseo during the interview, they found marijuana containers on the ground-- another reminder that pet owners need to be vigilant.

"There really isn't a place that's safe from it. You just have to be very careful about what your dog is sniffing, what they're picking up on the sidewalk, just to be really cautious no matter where you are," Flaum said.

Vets say if you think your pet may have ingested drugs, get them help immediately rather than waiting until your pet is showing severe symptoms. And be sure to tell the vet everything.

For more information and a full list of resources, visit

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Peter Daut


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