Dog-poisoning plague hits city

DOGS are being poisoned throughout Pietermaritzburg’s affluent suburbs with up to three cases a month being reported to some veterinary clinics.

Almost all the animal hospitals within Pietermaritzburg have either treated or undertaken an autopsy of poisoned dogs this year, with incidents often occurring in spates.

It has also been widely understood that the poisoning of dogs is linked to ­burglaries, with criminals apparently eliminating a possible threat to their ­intended crimes.

Last Wednesday, a Pelham couple rushed their two dogs to the vet after ­finding them vomiting.

Pelham resident Nish Khan said his Rottweiler and husky, both three years old, were poisoned.

“I came home from work. They were quiet, but I thought that they were tired. I then went to see them and I saw them vomit blood. We immediately took them to the vet. Thankfully both survived, but they are not 100%,” said Khan.

He said the vet confirmed they had been poisoned.

“My brother-in-law also found a pie in the garden with poison inside. These dogs are my children and they were so close to dying. People say they are there to protect me, but I feel I must protect them. They now sleep inside,” said Khan.

He said there was an attempted theft of his neighbour’s vehicle that same night. Car owner Anthony Goldstone cofirmed the incident to The Witness, and said he suspects a link between this and the dogs being poisoned.

Khan’s vet, Dr Leonard de Freitas of the Veterinary House Hospital in ­Pietermaritzburg, said a pesticide ­available on the black market called ­Temik, commonly known as Two Step, was possibly used against Khan’s dogs. He added that a dog is brought in on suspicion of poisoning every second week.

“It is difficult to say in which areas it occurs, as it always changes and shifts around as criminal gangs move from one area to the next, but it appears to be ­happening in the wealthier suburbs. We have three to four cases a month,” said De Freitas.

He said, however, that not all cases were malicious, with some pets ingesting rat poison or other household items used for other purposes.

Dr Greg Mills, of the Hayfields ­Veterinary Hospital, said while they had not handled a poison case for six weeks, the most common method was lacing a pie or meat with Temik and throwing it over a wall to kill the dogs before ­committing a crime.

“It is commonly known as Two Step because it acts so quickly,” he said.

Mills said common signs of poisoning are vomiting, respiratory problems, ­seizures and salivation.

Hilton Veterinary Hospital’s Lillian Hirzel said Temik affects the nervous ­system. “Often it is a family of dogs poisoned. The quantity needed to kill each dog ­varies, but it is potentially fatal in any dose,” she said.

Pietermaritzburg resident Jane van ­Niekerk said she lost her pet to ­poisoning in April 2014.

“My nine-month-old Great Dane CK was dead when I came home. There was froth around her mouth. Another couple in my neighbourhood had their ­Rhodesian Ridgebacks poisoned about a month earlier.

“CK was such a good watchdog and always protected us,” said Van Niekerk.

SPCA Pietermaritzburg manager ­Alistair Sinclair said victims of malicious poisonings can open criminal cases.

“A pet is the property of the owner. You are entitled to open up a case of destruction of private property. Several years ago the police issued circulars on how to deal with this specific crime,” said Sinclair.

A Pietermaritzburg detective said it was not uncommon for dogs to be poisoned in the process of a crime being committed.

“A criminal will try by any means to make their entry into a property easier, and neutralising the watchdogs is one such method,” said the detective, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

BAYER CropScience, once the sole ­distributors of Temik in South Africa, said they ceased the production of its key ingredient in 2010.

“CropScience ceased production of Aldicarb in 2010, and stopped marketing Temik at the end of 2011 worldwide. New, innovative and safer products have since been developed and are now available on the market,”said spokesperson Tasniem Patel.

Aldicarb is the active substance in the pesticide Temik. Patel said they are “aware of other chemicals ­currently on the market” that are ­“incorrectly referred to as Aldicarb”.

“We believe that the ­[government] is aware of this and is in the process of gazetting any ­substance referred to as Aldicarb as illegal,” said Patel.

Has your dog been poisoned? Send a picture of your pet and the details of the incident to jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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