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Balboa didn’t mean any harm to the inch-long insect in the bushes. The year-old pug was out for a late night walk last month with his owners Eyad and Shereen Bahhur of Metairie, La., when he spotted the Southern Walking Stick camouflaged within the branches of a bush. Unfortunately for Balboa, Southern Walking Sticks defend themselves by spraying venom directly into the eyes of their “attacker.”
“Balboa was sniffing around like he usually does,” said Eyad, “but then he jumped back all of a sudden. He was foaming at the mouth and wouldn’t open his eyes. We took him inside the house and rinsed his eyes out, but he was still squinting.”
Within hours of the accident, the Bahhurs took Balboa to their veterinarian. The veterinarian hadn’t had much experience with Balboa’s type of injury and recommended the Bahhurs see a specialist an hour and half’s drive away in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The veterinary specialist treated Balboa for corneal ulcers that had developed in both eyes as a result of the toxins in the insect venom. If left untreated, the dog would have likely lost one if not both eyes. Balboa was given close to a dozen prescriptions including eye drops that required application every hour on the hour. Eyad took a week off work just to stay at home to put the drops in Balboa’s eyes.
For the next week, the pug was essentially blind. “Basically, he did a lot of sitting,” Eyad said. “I had to carry him everywhere, and it would be another three weeks before he was himself again. It’s a really rare case. This was definitely a time where I’m glad we had pet insurance.”