MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – It’s summertime and many of us including our furry friends enjoy the warmer temperatures. We all do our best to keep our four-legged friends safe, but when left unattended pets are at risk of getting into things that can be harmful.

Experts at WebMD Pet Health Center say that on average there are an estimated 230,000 cases of pet poisoning annually in the U.S. For pet owners like Rumer L’Armee, losing her fur baby to poisoning has been something she says she hopes no pet owner has to go through.

“There are days I will sit there and I actually cry because I miss her like she was my best friend for years,” said Rumer L’Armee of Midland. It’s been three years since L’Armee’s beloved service dog Malibu died and life hasn’t been the same for her since.

“She went through high school with me [and] she was there whenever I graduated,” said L’Armee. Their bond was like no other, but everything changed for them when she found out that her pet was ill.

“There are times that I blame myself for her being sick,” she said.

About six years ago L’Armee said Malibu started acting strange and suddenly began head bobbing, would refuse to drink water, and became disorientated, that’s when she took Malibu to the vet immediately.

“So whenever we took her to the vet … they were like yeah … she has been poisoned,” said L’Armee. “With the blood work, they did bloodwork on her and they were able to determine that it was poisoning.” L’Armee then went back home and noticed something alarming outside her yard.

“There were plastic baggies with some green stuff in it, which I believe is anti-freeze and that’s when I realized somebody definitely threw this over my fence,” said L’ Armee.

L’ Armee also found dried up hot dogs that had an anti-freeze smell to it. “There are people out here that will hurt an animal and not care,” said L’Armee.

Thankfully, Malibu did survive the poisoning, but her behavior changed and became aggressive. Malibu had to retire as L’Armee’s service dog because she could no longer do her job.

“It just became a lot to deal with [and] we had to put her on a bunch of medications and eventually she retired as my service dog,” said L’Armee.

L’Armee said she wishes she could have done more to protect her beloved pup.

“Now that summer has started you see a lot of anti-freeze [and] in the winter time getting ready for winter you see a lot of anti-freeze and it’s becoming more and more common,” said Legacy Animal Emergency Hospital Manager Stacy Stromberg.

Stromberg said the hospital has seen a rise in the number of poisonings.

“Just a drop [and] that’s all it takes and if they lick their feet … it’s bad,”. Stromberg goes on to say that it only takes one drop of anti-freeze to seriously hurt an animal.

“And it tastes good to them, it’s very sweet [and] they like the taste of it,” said Stromberg. “So, if there’s a puddle on the ground they will lick it.”

Stromberg said there’s no way to identify if a pet was poisoned on purpose, but there are tests the hospital can conduct to confirm if an animal ate some sort of drug or anti-freeze.

“They can have neurological signs are were noticed right off, where they twitch a little bit [and] they are ultra-sensitive to sound or touch,” she said.

She also said if your pet begins vomiting or has diarrhea and you are unsure why take them to the vet right away.

“Time is of the essence with some of these things and the quicker we get help to these pets … the better the outcome,” said Stromberg.

“If you go out in your backyard … or every other day … just go along your fence line to make sure there’s nothing out there,”, suggested Stromberg.

People are encouraged to call Animal Poison Control for guidance as well. You can also call 888-426-4425 for help.

“One of my favorite memories that I will never forget about her [Malibu] … whenever … I would tell her it’s time for a bath, she would sit there and argue with me and bark at me,” L’Armee recalled. “I actually have a video on my phone [of that].”

One thing L’Armee wanted us to share is that if you do have pets and they hang out in the yard, put up a camera to help keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.