By ALEC SMART
An extremely sick puppy that fell ill after eating something left on a path in Enmore, in Sydney’s inner west, has provoked fears the notorious dog poisoner has struck again.
In a 14 July post to the Newtown 2042 Facebook community page, the owner, Julien Bouskila, warned “Hey all, just wanted to let everyone know to be careful with their pups around Enmore Rd.
“My pup is currently in intensive care in Sydney Uni with a toxicity poisoning of some sort that he picked up on our regular morning walk (Addison Rd, Enmore Rd, right hand side block). Be safe!”
The dog has since been treated and is on the road to recovery, and police have been notified.
If confirmed it was a poisoning, it follows a similar incident that took place nearby in Enmore Park on 1 Oct 2019, when morning dog walkers discovered raw chicken scattered in the off-leash dog walking area, which they suspected was baited.
After a dog named Charlie fell severely ill and was rushed to a veterinary hospital for emergency treatment, the Inner West Police Area Command issued an urgent warning for dog owners.
“Dog baits of raw chicken containing green rat poison have been located in Enmore Park. Please use extreme caution when walking your dogs at the location.
If you suspect your dog has eaten a bait take them to a vet hospital immediately. DO NOT WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS TO APPEAR.”
The Inner West Council also released a statement warning “A total of seven pieces of poisoned chicken were found in the park. We are asking pet owners to be mindful of potential bait hazards in parks and notify police immediately if found. ”
Charlie recovered, thankfully, and the Inner West Police Area Command announced on their Facebook page: “We have received the happy news that Charlie, who ate a dog bait at Enmore Park in Sydney’s inner west earlier this week, is out of hospital. If you follow our page you’ll know how much we love dogs… and rest assured, we are doing everything possible to track down the person responsible for this baiting.”
However, a number of previous dog baiting incidents across Sydney resulted in tragedy.
In Aug 2019 at Rushcutters Bay Park in eastern Sydney, a woman was walking her Husky near the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia when it ingested a ‘yellow, aniseed-scented’ substance left at the base of a tree. The dog later died and another that ate the same bait was rendered severely ill.
A Woollahra Council spokesperson confirmed it had received reports of two possible cases of poisoning at Rushcutters Bay Park. They told 9News: “Rangers and park staff are conducting extra patrols of the area. We ask people to be cautious when walking their dogs. If your dog becomes sick, seek immediate attention from a vet.”
In the same month a chunk of meat filled with toxic green slug pellets was left outside a home in Whitney Street, Mona Vale, and a young puppy had to have its stomach pumped after eating it.
In Sept 2019 a greyhound was taken ill after it ingested a large amount of rat poison that was left in baited mincemeat on the bayside at Lilyfield. And on the coastal walk at South Coogee, baited meat was found scattered on the ground.
Dogs were also poisoned in Rozelle and Leichhardt. On 18 Sept the Inner West Council issued the warning: “There have been reports of dog baiting near Le Montage on the Bay Run in Rozelle and in Pioneers Park in Leichhardt. The RSPCA NSW and Police have been notified. Council staff are at both sites today undertaking a thorough inspection of the grass and gardens. If you see any baits please contact Council and we will collect them immediately.”
Further afield, in Queensland, two dogs died in Aug 2019 with up to a dozen falling ill after consuming poisoned meat pieces left on the ground in two off-leash areas: Waterfront Park in Newstead, north Brisbane, and a few kilometres to the south in New Farm Park.
On 8 Aug the Dogs Of New Farm Instagram account reported that a small terrier X named Kiody succumbed to something she ate in the park, dying within 24 hours of falling ill.
“Little Kiody was unfortunately the victim of baiting in the local New Farm and Newstead area. Something she ate off the ground had been poisoned by an unknown toxin and she had passed within 24 hours of becoming sick. Kiody’s humans did everything they could to save her life and no expense was spared. Unfortunately, nothing further could be done for her.”
A local resident, Robert Riseley, posted pictures on his Facebook page of suspicious-looking meat pieces, cut into small cubes, which he found in New Farm Park, with the warning: “I found all this meat in New Farm Park … Please be vigilant and not allow your pet to go anywhere near it.”
Simultaneously, in west Brisbane, pieces of rat poison were found scattered out the front of Retreat Doggy Daycare grooming and dog-minding services in Bardon.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, who said he “felt sick” by the dog baiting menace, then announced that Brisbane City Council would install covert CCTV cameras in a number of Brisbane’s 135 off-leash parks. “We are working with the police here, but what we want the people who are doing this to know, is: you will be caught!”
Recurring poison attempts
Dog baiting predates the Aug-Sept 2019 spate of poisonings in Brisbane and Sydney that resulted in the deaths of several dogs. An internet search for dog poisoning attacks reveals recurring reports of bait left in off-leash areas over the years.
In Oct 2018, RSPCA Queensland reported an alarming surge in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, several of which were linked to neighbourhood disputes centred on noise complaints about persistent barking.
RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said “It does seem to be on the increase and that is a concern. We have seen a number of incidents in Brisbane .. and now on the Sunshine Coast. It is an incredibly painful way for the dog to die.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the same parks are targeted by the baiter(s). This might lead one to suspect it involves the same perpetrator(s).
For example, the aforementioned New Farm Park off-leash area in Brisbane was also targeted two years earlier in 2017.
On 22 Sept 2017, West Highland White Terrier Club of QLD posted a warning on their Facebook page that “one of the residents’ dogs has been unwell after a routine walk there and now is in intensive care. It may be rat poison wrapped inside peanut butter, like a tasty snack.”
On the same day, twin sisters Hannah and Louise Forbes were walking their two dogs in Teneriffe Park, Brisbane, half way between Waterfront and New Farm parks. One of their dogs, a two-year-old labradoodle named Harvey, was observed eating blue cubes coated in a brown paste that he found near drinking water on the edge of a children’s play area.
“It was kind of odd-looking, smelled like peanut butter and was broken because Harvey had chewed it,” Hannah recalled. After taking the dogs home the sisters took to the internet to research the possibility that Harvey had ingested poison.
“We Googled ‘blue cube’ because that was what it looked like and it came up with rat poison straight away,” Hannah told reporters. Harvey was rushed to a vet, where he was treated with induced vomiting and given charcoal to clear his stomach. He survived.
Go back further in time to Aug 2009 and Rushcutters Bay Park in eastern Sydney features again in an attempted dog poisoning incident.
Dog walkers discovered car engine antifreeze fluid was added to dog water bowls in the harbourside recreation park. Antifreeze contains liquid alcohols like ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and methanol, which, even in small doses, interferes with the functioning of the brain, kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system and often leads to organ damage or death. Six dogs reportedly became ill after drinking it.
In July 2009, just a few kilometres west, snail bait was scattered on footpaths around Woolloomooloo and Darlinghurst, in areas where there was no need to reduce snails or slugs. Dog walkers reported that the pellets kept reappearing over a number of weeks.
City of Sydney assured residents that they were not responsible because their pest control measures were placed in baiting stations inaccessible to dogs and cats.
Unfortunately, a Kelpie named Louie died after consuming snail bait pellets that were suspiciously placed outside a dog-friendly pub in Woolloomooloo, the East Sydney Hotel on Crown St. A week later, Louie’s owner, Paul Jumikis, discovered another pile of snail bait in the rear laneway behind his Woolloomooloo home, where there were no flowers nor any need to control snails.
“At first I just thought that I was really unlucky, that it had spilt out of someone’s shopping bag,” he recalled. “But when I found a patch of it in my back lane I couldn’t think of any other explanation, except that, you know, it had been deliberate. It is the most horrendous way that a dog or any animal could die.”
For information that could help track down the person(s) responsible for dog baiting, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000
If you discover suspected baits, retain them and contact police on 131 444
For suspected dog poisoning or emergency treatment, contact RSPCA NSW on (02) 9770 7555 between the hours of 09.30am and 7.00pm