Hundreds of dogs poisoned every month

By admin
25 May 2015

The poisoning of dogs is a national problem affecting both rural and urban areas and is closely linked to organised crime.

A seasoned investigator probing the use of poisons illegally in the country believes countrywide “hundreds of dogs” are poisoned every month.

This week The Witness reported that dogs in Pietermaritzburg were not immune to this deadly crime tactic with some vets recording at least three dogs a month being admitted for poisoning.

Gerhard Verdoorn, director of Griffon Poison Information Centre, said the use of aldicarb accounts for “probably more than 90% of poisoning cases” in which guard dogs are poisoned by criminals. The remaining 10% is considered accidental such as a dog eating rat poison placed inside a house. With 25 years experience Verdoorn, who predominately assists the national Department of Agriculture and the SAPS, said aldicarb is the primary active substance used in some pesticides. It is banned in parts of Europe and can no longer legally be sold in South Africa. Bayer GeoScience was once the sole distributor and manufacturer of aldicarb, which was used in its pesticide trademarked Temik. Bayer allowed its license permitting it to produce the chemical to lapse in 2012 and Temik is no longer available on the market.

'There is not a single place in the country that is not affected'

“Illegally imported aldicarb is brought through the Mozambique and Zimbabwe border. What they are bringing in is not Temik. There are at least five different aldicarb [versions] being brought into the country. It is an unknown aldicarb.

“One Chinese aldicarb that we know of looks like gunpowder. It is very dangerous. Then there is other aldicarb that look like Temik but are not. It is all used to kill dogs or game.

“Hundreds of dogs are killed a month and there is not a single place in the country that is not affected,” said Verdoorn.

He said it was not uncommon for entire farming communities to have their dogs poisoned and then their premises robbed.

'Deeply distressed'

Heart-wrenching stories have emerged as pet owners have come forward to The Witness telling how their best friends were poisoned.

Athlone resident Jesse Feldman said Rex, their German Shepherd, was recently found dead at the bottom of their garden on a day they had several maintenance workers on the property earlier this month. The workers had been repairing hail damage.

“We had two German Shepherd dogs who were in very good health. We had maintenance workers at our home doing hail damage repairs. We kept the one dog indoors as she kept barking at the workers and my dog Rex was in the bottom half of the garden.

“Later that afternoon I went out to feed Rex to find him lying motionless on the footpath. He had vomited blood while trying to drink water from his water bowl and died. I immediately thought he must have been poisoned as his abdomen was grossly swollen and distended. We are deeply distressed at the passing of Rex,” said Feldman.

Another resident, who preferred to keep his details private, said last Thursday their Labrador was poisoned in the Bellevue area.

“We took her to the vet where she had to spend two nights. She is now home, but has not fully recovered. She is still not eating well and is not happy. It is a slow recovery process but we grateful she is alive. I am unaware of any break-ins,” he said.

Dr Bob Graham, executive director of the Children’s Resiliency Project that runs a home for children, many abandoned, in Ashburton said that in 2012, an attempt to steal “one of our buses at our Ashburton location” saw their two dogs poisoned.

“Thieves poisoned and killed our dogs. They were unsuccessful in stealing the vehicle, though they damaged the steering mechanisms. We have since sold the Toyota Quantum, which was targeted several times by thieves and replaced it with a bus that is less targeted, however, our dogs are dead,” said Graham who is currently based in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

But he said while it “was sad” they used the incident to “teach the kids valuable lessons”.

“That same day we travelled to Waterfall and bought a new puppy,” said Graham.

Housebreaking gang

A joint task team made up of private security recently got its claws into a housebreaking gang who had killed a dog just hours earlier.

The task team known as CAT also found a bottle of aldicarb in the suspects possession when the arrest was made in late April.

Aldicarb is known on the street as Two Step due to its ability to kill an animal in as many steps.

A source within the crime busting body said dogged police work saw them catch the suspects red-handed with a motorbike they had stolen just hours earlier. the bike was still on the back of the suspects’ bakkie.

The poison was found in the vehicle.

“The bike had been stolen in Hayfieds. There were four suspects but two managed to escape. Both arrested are foreign nationals. A dog had been poisoned at the house that was robbed,” said the source.

The two accused are currently in custody. They are likely to face charges of theft and damage to private property, the latter related to the dog murder. Pets are considered property of their owners

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