Cache County police K9 dies after ingesting Foxtail weeds

Storm, a police K9. Image courtesy Cache County Sheriff’s Office.

CACHE COUNTY, Utah -- A police K9 serving with Cache County Sheriff's Office died in surgery this week after inadvertently ingesting Foxtail weeds.

“It’s hard to replace what we just lost,” Cache County Sheriff Chad Jensen said. “This is a horrible thing for our office and I would hate for a family to have to go through this as well with their pets.”

According to the Cache County Sheriff's Office, Storm was a 2-year-old Malinois who joined their K9 team in 2017.

Storm was at a public event Tuesday night with his handler demonstrating skills and abilities, and then Wednesday morning a K9 deputy noticed the dog was acting strangely.

Storm was taken to a veterinarian, who found fluid around Storm's lungs and chest. The fluid was drained and X-rays were taken. The vet determined Storm had inhaled or ingested Foxtail weeds, and surgery was scheduled to remove them and the infected areas.

Police say Storm died during that surgery.

"Foxtail weeds have barbed seed heads, and they can work themselves into any part of an animal’s body," the press release states. "The danger with Foxtail are the seeds do not break down once inside the body and can cause massive infection."

Police say that both veterinarians they consulted say the handler caught the issue in the early stages and were optimistic Storm would recover. They say his death was a very unexpected circumstance.

State Weed Extension Specialist Corey Ransom said Foxtail Barley isn’t a poisonous weed, and even getting stuck in an animal's body isn’t problematic; it’s the infection that is harmful to the animal.

“You know when something becomes lodged in our mouth, we can reach in with our fingers and draw it out,” Ransom said. “Animals don’t have opposable digits, so if something becomes lodged they don’t have a lot of ways to remove that.”

A memorial service for Storm is being planned.

"We want to thank both Cache Meadow Veterinarian Clinic and Dr. Ravi Seshadri from the Advance Care Clinic in Salt Lake City for their expertise, care, and compassion for Storm, our deputy, and our Office," the release states.