A Cranbrook couple is warning dog owners to be vigilant up in the Community Forest after their Scotch Collie lab died from eating something that was likely laced with a deadly chemical.
On the morning of Oct. 5, Haley Walker and Dave Opperman went for a walk with their dog, Nixon, in the Community Forest, starting from the upper parking lot on the corner of Baker Mountain Rd.
A few hundred feet into the trail before the Brody Trail intersection, Nixon dug up a semi-buried white fatty substance and ate it.
He died later that night.
“He always was into stuff, he’s a dog, he’s a lab, it’s his nature, so we never thought anything that morning,” said Walker, “until Dave came and picked me up from work and that’s when Nixon turned inside out and turned into this other dog.
“Convulsions into seizures, back into convulsions and back into seizures.”
A veterinarian pumped Nixon’s stomach and administered an anaesthetic, which eventually wore off. Nixon ran around the house for 15 minutes straight, and began to overheat before the seizures returned and took a fatal toll.
Walker’s vet emptied the contents of Nixon’s stomach, which revealed the white, fatty substance.
“People have been coming out and saying it’s fungal, a mushroom,” Walker said. “It’s not. The contents of Nixon’s stomach was a fatty substance — flesh. Both Dave and I saw it and picked at it at the vet the night that he died and the next day we went back up to where he found this stuff and picked it up with a poop bag.
“Same thing, we felt it through the bag — it’s fat.”
Walker says the vet consulted with a specialist, and all the symptoms point to sodium fluoroacetate, more commonly known as 1080, which is used as a rodenticide.
“With all this stuff, the symptoms fit,” Opperman said.
Unfortunately, Nixon’s tragic story isn’t the only one.
According to Walker, two other dogs have passed away after ingesting the same substance, all at the same area of the Community Forest where Walker and Opperman were walking Nixon.
RCMP is urging dog owners to be aware of what their pets are getting into, and aren’t ruling out the fact that the substance has been distributed intentionally.
“RCMP are looking for methods along with community partners in eradicating the substance but also cautioning citizens if using this trail system to keep your dogs on leash and pay attention to your children if they are accompanying you,” said S/Sgt. Hector Lee, in a press release.
Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call police at 250-489-3471 or to report information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Information can also be relayed via web or text based tips with details on canadiancrimestoppers.org.