‘Beware dog poisoner’

2018-02-27 06:00
Eddie de Vos with his remaining dog Tyson. PHOTOS: Earl Haupt

Eddie de Vos with his remaining dog Tyson. PHOTOS: Earl Haupt

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While driving around Vanguard, one may notice a home signposted with words out of the ordinary.

“Beware of the Bronze Street dog killer,” the sign reads.

Upon investigation, resident Eddie de Vos tells a sorry tale of how he lost his dog. De Vos suspects that one of his dogs, Roxy, was poisoned to death, which led him to erect the signs which now greet visitors to his home.

“I have been staying here since 1968, my wife has been dead for 20 years already, and we have never had this problem before. I saw my dog lying in the yard. ‘Roxy what’s wrong?’ I asked, so I took her to the animal hospital in Grassy Park (SPCA).

“Normally when we put their food bowl down, she normally goes for it, but that time she didn’t even move for it.

“They kept her there for two days and they asked if I wanted to take x-rays to see what could be wrong. The doctor then called me one morning to say that Roxy passed on. I could not believe it,” says De Vos.

De Vos says that he was told that, based on the symptoms found in Roxy, they suspect she may have been poisoned. However, the SPCA’s Belinda Abraham says that the SPCA can only confirm this after a post mortem is conducted by the State Vet. An opinion may however have been given based on the symptoms described.

However, Abraham states if an owner suspects their dog (or any other pet) to be poisoned they need to report it to the police and open a police case.

“Poisoning incidents contravene Section 2(1) (n) or Section 2(1) (d) of the Animals Protection Act, Act 71 of 1962, as amended,” states Abraham.

She adds that further charges may be possible (depending on the poisons used) in terms of the contravention of the fertilisers, farm feeds, agriculture remedies and stock remedies Act, Act 36 of 1947, as amended and the hazardous substances Act, Act 15 of 1973, as amended.

De Vos says that he approached the police for assistance, but that he was not given hope in the plight of confirming his suspicions.

“The police told me that if I make a case, we can go and make charges, but I don’t have any proof, because I did not see anything. As a result I have had cameras put up. It is too late now,” says an exasperated De Vos, who now only has his remaining dog, Tyson, still alive.

He also took Tyson to the SPCA to be tested, but fortunately he was clear of any suspected poisoning.

“If an owner suspects poisoning, it is always an emergency and immediate veterinary care should be sought. When caught early, vomiting can be induced,” explains Abraham.

She adds that there is not much an owner can do at home, other than perhaps to feed activated charcoal to absorb some of the undigested poison.

“Remember that poison can also be absorbed through the skin (especially cats) or inhaled. If you have time, gather up any of the potential poison that remains – this may be helpful to your veterinarian and any outside experts who assist with the case. If your dog has vomited, collect the sample in case your veterinarian needs to see it,” she says.

Animal owners should make sure that any poisonous substances are stored correctly, including human prescription medications.

“Remember that dogs can be fatally poisoned by eating a rodent that has been exposed to poison, so always be very cautious about using these products. Tell your neighbours if you put out rat bait, so they can protect their pets from exposure, and ask them to do the same for you. 
“If one of your dogs has been the victim of a poisoning incident, search your garden for any remaining trace of the poison and clean up any pet excretions. It is always best to contact the poison control centre for disposal advice,” Abraham explains further. 
Most poisons are disguised and owners are encouraged to train their pets to not accept food that is not in their food bowl. 
“Animals that spend most of their time indoors are understandably at a lower risk of poisoning but if this is not possible, separate your front and back gardens and keep your pets in the back where there is reduced likelihood of them posing a threat to potential criminals. Remember that the poisoning of pets, while it is a crime in itself, is also a precursor to crime and that the perpetrators likely have a bigger agenda in mind,” states Abraham. 
Should the animal die as a result of poisoning, Abraham reminds those that there are their legal ramifications attached.
“In addition to the penalties that could be imposed for offences committed against an animal in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962, the courts have the power to award damages to the party that suffered loss when any person is convicted by a magistrates court of an offence under this Act.”
V The SPCA is happy to assist with the opening of a case and the gathering of evidence and can be contacted on 021 700 4158/9 during office hours or 083 326 1604 afterhours.

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