TAMPA, Fla. - Kelsey Barbas let her dogs out to play in the yard, not knowing there was about to be a deadly encounter. Her dog, Tater came back into the house showing odd symptoms.
"He was kind of cowering, he was shaking," Barbas remembers.
Her other dog, Chase brought her to the yard to show her a dead bufo toad.
"I ran back inside, Tater started foaming at the mouth," she said. "And then he started seizing."
A frantic trip to the vet, and then to a second vet, couldn't save Tater.
"I want people to know that these toads are real," said Barbas. "They can kill your animals and it is super sad."
Bufo toads, sometimes called cane toads, secrete a poisonous mucus from glands behind their ears, so if a dog bites down, they ingest the poison.
Blue Pearl Veterinarian Meghan Johnson says most encounters are not deadly if an animal is treated by a vet very quickly and it did not get too high a dose of the toad's poison.
If your pet does get ahold of a bufo toad, Johnson says, "decontaminate the mouth by using a wet washcloth and wiping the insides of the gums," and then get to a vet right away.
She says the invasive toads will always be a part of Florida because they like the warm and wet climate. And dogs will always find them attractive animals to chase.
"There are really no good natural predators for them," said Johnson. "They have quite taken hold in Central and South Florida."
Kelsey, who is the daughter of FOX 13 Medical Reporter Dr. Joette Giovinco, says she hopes Tater's legacy will be helping other pets and their parents avoid the potentially deadly creatures.
"He was my best friend," she said. "If I can let other people know to make them aware and protect their babies, then I will be happy to share this story."
Tater being treated for bufo toad poison