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Monsoon storms bring in poisonous reptiles and scorpions

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 14:09:30-04

As monsoon storms move in, so do potentially deadly reptiles and scorpions.

One San Tan Valley family hopes sharing their story of tragedy can prevent another family from experiencing their own.

Jamie Nijboer and her husband don’t go anywhere without their three Miniature Doberman Pinschers. Even when they travel back home to Europe, they take their dogs.

The family of five were celebrating the 4th of July a week after moving into their new San Tan Valley home, when they soon became a family of four.

"It’s the worst thing that could have happened to us because we're far away from family,” said Nijboer.

Nijboer is from the Netherlands and her husband is from Wales. The two have lived in the U.S. for the better part of decade, most of that time in the East Valley.

On the 4th of July, she and her husband let their dogs out in the backyard. She noticed one of their dogs, Ffion, was limping.

Pretty soon, things went from bad to worse as they rushed her to the emergency vet.

"She was in a lot of pain, foaming, screaming... Surprised we didn't get a ticket because we went very fast," she said.

Jamie says it wasn't long after they left the vet when they got the call that Ffion wasn't going to make it. She said she requested an autopsy to discover how their dog died but Ffion was already sent to be cremated.

Less than a month in their new home and they had a new memory they'd like to forget.

“We found the toad like stuck here,” said Nijboer, pointing to the filtration basket of their pool.

She's not sure if it was a scorpion, snake or Sonoran Desert Toad that led to her dog's death, but Nijboer says there's a saying in her home country of the Netherlands: warning one human can help two others.

She wants other pet owners to know how deadly a Sonoran Desert Toad can be, and the potential dangers of scorpions and the common Western Diamondback and how deadly a Sonoran Desert Toad can be.

“Anyone who touches these, has to wash their hands,” said Cale Morris with the Phoenix Herpetological sanctuary. His official title is venom manager.

"All toads are actually poisonous,” he said.

After we see monsoon rains like we’ve seen across the Valley this week, toads come out in the hundreds.

There are poisonous glands on either side of them that they as a defense against predators, and that poison is all over their skin.

If a dog tries to eat or lick a toad, veterinarians recommend you flush their mouth out with a hose.

“You can get that poison diluted quickly,” said Morris.

Now, Jamie doesn't let her dogs off the leash, even in her own backyard.