Heather Umphenour and her family returned home Sunday night to find their two German Shepherd-mixed rescue dogs in the backyard covered with bee stings and surrounded by hundreds of dead bees. One dog, Luna, died from her injuries, while her brother, Wolf, is still receiving veterinary care.
Umphenour fears the next attack might happen to a person.
“My children are crying themselves to sleep and for this to happen to somebody’s child, it would be horrible,” Umphenour said. “I want people to be informed that they’re in the area and that you have to look out.”
Most wild honeybees in the San Gabriel Valley, hybrids of European and African strains, are commonly known as “killer bees,” according to the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District. Killer bees aggressively protect their hive and swarm threats en masse.
Umphenour, who has four children, said she’s never seen a hive at their home near Gladstone High School in approximately seven years of living there. Umphenour and her husband rescued Wolf and Luna when they were 8-week old puppies roughly a year ago. The brother and sister often wrestled and rough housed in the fenced-in back yard.
The family spent most of the day Saturday clearing out the backyard and trimming the family’s lemon trees, but did not see any bees or signs of bees, Umphenour said. It’s unclear where the swarm originated from.
Umphenour said she’s already warned officials at the nearby school and informed the city’s public works department.
“The whole situation is just mind blowingly shocking,” she said. “I just hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Wolf, who remains at the Inland Valley Emergency Pet Clinic, was stung primarily on his face. His swollen eyes blocked his sight until Tuesday, according to the pet clinic’s Medical Director Jeff Patlogar.
A few bee stings are common each year, typically during the summer. Hundreds, if not thousands of stings, are rare, Patlogar said.
The severe reaction from the bee stings causes swelling, vomiting, weakness and seizures. Several hundred stingers have already been removed from Wolf’s tongue and many more are still coming out. The stings inside the mouth come from the dog biting at the bees, Patlogar said.
He’s expected to stay at least several more days.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/umphenours to help cover the veterinary costs, which are expected run about $6,000.
“We’re trying to keep our dog alive, that’s where all of the money is going,” Umphenour said.
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