Dogs die from poisoning in Alderwood area

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Two Alderwood dogs have died and three others fallen ill from rat poison in the last month, says a Mississauga veterinarian who treated the animals.

“Since the beginning of January, I’ve had five cases,” Dr. Dainius Verbickas said Thursday, noting one dog was pronounced dead-on-arrival. “I did an autopsy and found severe bleeding and some greenish pellets. Usually, these products contain green dyes and look like pellets.”

On Thursday, Verbickas began treatment on the fifth dog – a mixed German shepherd – that also, he said, ingested rat poison.

All five dogs live in the area of Brown’s Line and Horner Avenue, said Verbickas, who works at Pet Vet Lakeshore Hospital in Mississauga.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence because it’s five cases,” Verbickas said.

“We confirmed just based on clinical signs, history and lab results (blood tests). It’s just another indication (aside from the autopsy) most likely we’re dealing with rat poisoning.”

Yesterday, a city parks department crew scoured Delma Park in the Brown’s Line-Horner Avenue area after one Alderwood resident called The Etobicoke Guardian and alleged the dogs may have ingested the poison in the park.

Crews found no evidence of rat poison.

“They swept the whole park and the church next door and found nothing,” a concerned Ward 6 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) Councillor Mark Grimes said Thursday afternoon.

“They’ll continue to monitor the situation.”

Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Bruce Lowrey said yesterday police are not aware of any dog poisonings in the area.

On Thursday, dog walker Anna Legge, who lives in the area, put up signs in the park warning other dog owners of the recent poisonings. “People need to know about this,” she said.

Jan Durst’s dog, Kosmo, was the first dog to die of rat poisoning, confirmed by Verbickas’ autopsy.

The Australian shepherd-chow retriever had fallen ill three weeks earlier, but had rallied, Durst said. Then one day, he died.

“It was a Tuesday and I’d taken Kosmo for our 7 a.m. walk around the block surrounding Delma Park,” Durst said Thursday. “I went off to work. At 10:30 that morning my son called me at work to say he’d died.”

Durst’s son rushed Kosmo to Verbickas, but it was too late.

Durst’s home backs onto Delma Park. But she said she never allowed her dog in the park.

She said she called the Toronto Humane Society to report her dog’s death, but was told nothing could be done since Kosmo was the only known case.

Three weeks later, Alderwood resident Nadine Powell and her husband, Jim, rushed their dog, Bjork, to Verbickas’ clinic, the only vet hospital in the area open on Sundays, she said.

The nine-year-old Siberian husky had spent the night vomiting, then become lethargic, her breathing erratic.

Vet staff rushed the dog in, but she died.

“The vet said she’s in shock and was anemic, the inside of her mouth was white,” Powell said. “He put her on oxygen and gave her a couple of injections. Then he came out and said, ‘she’s gone.'”

The previous morning, Powell had taken Bjork for a walk with a neighbour to the Etobicoke Creek valley. There, the dog picked up a carrot.

“I thought it was kind of strange, a carrot lying on the ground,” Powell said. “I told Bjork to drop it, and she did. Then, through the night, she got sick.”

Powell, too, said she never took her dog in Delma Park.

Symptoms of poisoning in animals include weakness, lethargy, lack of interest in food, and a pale palor, Verbickas said.

“It takes a couple of days to show clinical signs,” the veterinarian said. “Some need blood transfusions because they lose blood in their abdomen.”

One medical protocol called the Pivka test can detect rat poisoning, Verbickas said.

The mixed German shepherd currently being treated is stable and receiving intravenous fluids. Vitamin K therapy could continue for four to six weeks, he said.

Verbickas said he saw no cases of animals poisoned in 2006.

But, he added, one or two cases of animal poisonings can be seen every three or four months.

“Anyone can buy these products anywhere, in hardware stores, in grocery stores,” the vet said of rat poison. “Pets can find it on the ground. It’s very easy to poison animals.”

In February 2004, city officials closed Withrow Park in Riverdale after one dog died and 15 others fell ill. Public health officials confirmed hot dogs left in the Danforth Road and Pape Avenue area park had been filled with insecticide.

Source: The Guardian

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