BILLINGS — A Billings family is searching for answers after their 6-year-old American boxer named Jessie was poisoned in their backyard near South 19th Street West last week.
"That's what's scary is that nobody knows what's happening. It's just weird. You don't think it would happen to your dog, then it does," said Alek Laughridge, Jessie's owner, on Wednesday.
Laughridge's family adopted Jessie from Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter in October last year. The dog was a perfect fit for the family with two kids and two other pugs, Laughridge said.
"She was the coolest dog. She was a truck dog. She loved riding right in the passenger's seat of the truck, loved it. She loved going places," said Laughridge.
The family noticed something was wrong last Monday, when Jessie was salivating far more than normal, Laughridge said.
"She came in out of nowhere and was salivating really bad and she only does that if she wants food. Like if she's looking at you while you're eating, she'll salivate, but it was just nonstop constant. The next day, it got worse. She didn't really want to move a whole lot," Laughridge said.
Jessie's condition worsened over the next two days, and she didn't gain back any energy.
Two trips to two different veterinarians revealed Jessie somehow ingested rat poison, which shut down her nervous system. Within two days, the family made the tough decision to put Jessie down. Now, answers are tough to find.
"We went back there and looked all over trying to find something, and we didn't find anything. Then my pugs, they didn't have any issues and they're food aggressive. Very food aggressive and she wasn't like that at all. That's what was shocking is that she was the one who got a hold of it and they didn't," said Laughridge.
Through the terrible ordeal, the Laughridge family heard of more recent pet poisonings in the neighborhood.
"A lady reached out to her and said her son's dog over on (South) 19th (Street West), someone fed it a bowl of antifreeze. The doctor had told us they've been seeing that going around town before this lady ever even said something. They would sit there and slide a bowl of antifreeze underneath and slide it back out," Laughridge said.
Laughridge said the family has filled a police report with the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office.
A word of advice Laughridge wanted to offer is that pet owners should regularly be checking the perimeter of their yards for anything that's out of place.