Antifreeze poisoning suspected in puppy's death at Port Orange apartments

Police investigation underway after several animals found dead

PORT ORANGE, Fla. – After two pets died under suspicious circumstances, Port Orange police said Wednesday that they are investigating the incidents at Ashton Point Apartments.

Police said a resident reported to Port Orange Animal Control officers that their family dog died Sept. 22 under suspicious circumstances.

Summer Kocchi told News 6 that her 7-month-old Maltese mix named Vegas was wobbly, lethargic, vomiting and unable to eat.

"Within 24 hours, she went from a happy, playful 7-month old puppy to limping, peeing everywhere," Kocchi said. "She was thirsty, she wouldn't eat."

A vet from Ocean's Edge Veterinary Clinic examined Vegas and determined that the dog was likely exposed to antifreeze.

"Animals are drawn to the taste of antifreeze as it is sweet. It is extremely nephrotoxic (damaging to the kidneys) and ends in seizures and death," veterinarian Sandra S. L'Amie wrote in her letter to the apartment complex.

Then on Sept. 26, animal control again responded to the apartment complex on South Williamson Boulevard after a cat was found dead in the bushes.

The feline had no visible trauma to its body and its death is also considered suspicious, police said.

Kocchi said she recently found two bowls of antifreeze that she believes someone is intentionally leaving out to poison animals.

"So there has been dead raccoons, dead cats and my puppy go into it. It was right near a door where all the animals sniff around and then my dog, Vegas, died," Kocchi said.

Management at Ashton Point Apartments sent a letter to residents on Sept. 22, warning them that they believe antifreeze was left in small containers around Building 4 in an attempt to harm animals.

Residents were urged to keep their pets on leashes, supervise their children and to contact management if they witness anything suspicious.

"Our staff gives the deepest condolences to any household whose pets may have been affected by this act," the letter read.

A spokesperson from the corporate office of the Ashton Point Apartments told News 6 that they are working with Port Orange police on the investigation and hope whoever did this is arrested soon.

"We are as upset, if not more upset," a spokesperson with the complex said. 

The spokesperson said apartment workers are only aware of two dead cats, one raccoon and the dog and only knew of the investigation after Vegas' death on Sept. 22, which is when the complex manager sent a letter out to certain residents in a few buildings.

After hearing concerns from other residents about not being warned, the spokesperson said additional letters will be sent out as soon as possible.

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