This is the story of Charlie. Let’s make sure that not one more cat (or dog) dies from ethylene glycol poisoning – be it from a shattered snow globe, or antifreeze from other products like windshield deicing agents, brake fluid, motor oil, developing solutions for hobby photographers, wood stains, solvents, and paints.
Charlie was adopted by Donna in May of 2006 during an All Pet Adopt-A-Thon in Jacksonville, Florida. He was about 4 months old and had a beautiful coat, fabulous eyes and a face you couldn’t resist! Donna knew he was her cat and took him home. Charlie adjusted to his new home, his new brothers and sisters, was always playful and loving – he was a really smart kitty. As time went on, Charlie was turning into a gorgeous cat with a fabulous bushy tail and stunning blue-gray eyes. Little Charlie was Donna’s little boy.
On Christmas Eve day of 2006, little Charlie, who was always getting himself into everything decided to wander into the guest bedroom where a couple of Donna’s other cats were sleeping. Donna headed to work and later received a call from her husband, Jim, that she was going to be unhappy because Charlie knocked over and broke her mother’s snow globe and broke it. Donna was upset because her mother had passed away a couple of years earlier, but she knew that these things are expected when you have cats. Jim dried off Charlie and went on with his day.
When Donna returned home from work after 6:00 p.m. she noticed Charlie behaving a little strange. His big fluffy tail was down and he seemed to be not feeling well – he just wasn’t himself. She asked Jim how he had been through out the day. Jim said Charlie had joined him for a nap earlier and was very affectionate rubbing all over him and wouldn’t leave him alone.
Donna decided to do some research on snow globes to find out what they contained. The Poison Control Center told her that it was most likely salmonella poisoning and Charlie probably had an upset stomach. But Donna wasn’t satisfied with that answer. It didn’t make sense. She pressed on and discovered that most snow globes contain ethylene glycol, also known as anti-freeze, to prevent the contents from freezing during transport. Donna knew that poor Charlie had anti-freeze poisoning!
Even though Jim had dried him off, Charlie licked his fur – as all cats do – and that was enough. That tiny amount was enough to damage his kidneys. Charlie was being poisoned.
Donna was absolutely panic-stricken. She rushed Charlie to the local emergency vet hospital – 7 hours had already passed since the accident and little Charlie’s time was running out. The vet tested Charlie for anti-freeze poisoning and the results came back positive… and unfortunately too much time had passed since the accident. His little kidneys had already begun to crystallize. She asked the vet to treat him, knowing that in 9 hours, the damage is irreversible.
Donna left Charlie at the ER Vet for treatment overnight and picked him up on Christmas day. He was still hanging on but was getting worse by the hour. The next day she took Charlie to another emergency vet hospital. He was treated but his chances for survival were becoming slim. The following day her regular vet was open and she brought Charlie in. Dr. Sleeper made arrangements for Charlie to be seen at the teaching hospital in Gainesville, Florida. They confirmed her worse fears. They said that there was no hope of saving Charlie.
Jim researched transplantation as an option but it was too late. Charlie was too weak and too far gone for the operation. On December 27, 2006 at 3:20 p.m. just three days after the accident, their precious baby passed away…. He was only 10 months old.
Donna and Jim later learned that the overly affectionate behavior was all part of the anti-freeze poisoning. Anti-freeze poisoning gives the pet a feeling like being drunk and the small amount of anti-freeze left on Charlie’s fur, even after being dried off, was enough to poison him.
Donna says “I can’t begin to describe the feelings of helplessness and guilt me and my husband felt. Me for leaving the door open and Jim for not washing him off. I made a promise on that day that his death – it would not be in vain. I started calling and emailing every news media in my area. Someone had to listen. I finally got a call from Allie Gorman, health reporter. She agreed to hear my story.”
Donna recounted the events leading up to Charlie’s passing and the lack of knowledge and dangers of snow globes. The reporter agreed to air Charlie’s story.
“It was heart breaking to relive the events leading up to his death but I knew if even one pet could be saved from Charlie’s story it would be worth it,” said Donna.