March 07, 2016 - 6:30 PM
VERNON - Local pet owners are raising the alarm after reports of four dogs getting sick after visiting a Vernon dog park over the past few weeks.
The incidents have been happening at Marshall Fields on Okanagan Landing Road since late February. At the entrance to the dog park, a hand-written sign reads ‘Warning, dog poisoning happening.' It’s unknown exactly what is making the dogs sick, but some believe an individual is maliciously planting poison in the field.
Vernon resident Boyd Goble says his eight-month-old dog Angel got violently sick after eating something that looked like a hot dog Feb. 25 during a routine walk at Marshall Fields.
“She got into something, it looked like a sausage or a hotdog. I told her to spit it out and she did. An hour later, she’s throwing up and drooling. She had this really pained look on her face,” Goble says.
He took her to the vet, where Angel was given medication for her stomach as well as antibiotics. She was also given fluids intravenously. The vet said it was possible she was poisoned, Goble says.
“She couldn’t stand up without throwing up,” Goble says. One night, I thought I’d lose her. She couldn’t stand. It was just terrible. It was pretty frightening to see my dog change that quickly.”
Angel is recovering, but she’s lost eight pounds and still isn’t her usual energetic self. Goble never got a good look at what she ate, but says it was about 2 to 3 inches long and 5 to 10 feet off the path, "in an area it made no sense for someone to toss food."
“From what I’ve been reading and hearing, it’s scary to think it’s a possibility, but there’s a possibility someone is doing it on purpose,” Goble says.
There’s been some speculation on social media the dogs are inadvertently consuming rat poison placed on site by the City of Vernon, but officials say that’s an "unsubstantiated rumour."
“The City of Vernon does not use rat poison at all; in fact, we have never received a complaint about rats in that area,” communications officer Tanya Laing Gahr says.
The concerns led Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson, a vocal advocate for the dog park at Marshall Fields, to investigate the cause and see what, if anything, can be done.
He’s aware of a total of four alleged poisonings, one of them fatal. His tally includes a suspected poisoning near the soccer dome, one by the Lakers Clubhouse, one by the ball diamond, and another near the entrance of the dog park.
In one of the incidents, Anderson says a dog ingested "blue clumps." In another case, he says a vet confirmed the dog ingested rat poison. The dog that died lost bodily functions, had internal bleeding, and organ failure all in the span of a day, and apparently showed signs it may have consumed a blood thinner, Anderson says after speaking with the owner.
“I’d say it’s pretty clear there’s some poisoning going on,” Anderson says. “There seem to be no attacks on the actual dog run. I suspect, and I can only speculate, the person who did this doesn’t like dogs running on Marshall Fields per se off leash.”
Despite the rash of incidents at Marshall Fields, Vernon RCMP and dog control have received few reports of alleged poisonings. As of March 2, Const. Jocelyn Noseworthy said the detachment had received no reports of poisonings. It’s possible the detachment has received reports since then, however iNFOnews.ca has been unable to reach a spokesperson for confirmation.
Pat Ellis with Vernon Dog Control says they’ve received one report of a suspected poisoning that occurred on Feb. 25 but no others. She’s encouraging people to report suspected cases immediately, either online or by phoning dog control at 250-545-8070.
“People have to report to us before we can do anything about it,” Ellis says.
She won’t speculate on whether someone is intentionally poisoning dogs, but says it’s wise to take precautions at all times if you’re a dog owner.
“The biggest thing is being aware of where your dog is and what it’s doing and what it’s eating,” she says.
Anderson hopes to get to the bottom of the suspected poisonings, and has discussed the possibility of bush cameras with dog control to catch the perpetrator.
“What if it was a kid who picked it up?” Anderson says. “Then we’d be looking at a very serious issue.”
He’s encouraging anyone who suspects their dog was poisoned to contact the RCMP, B.C. SPCA and Vernon dog control.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016