Incidents of dogs being poisoned -- in some cases fatally -- from strychnine poisoning are being reported from a neighborhood in Long Lake Township, it was learned today.
Residents living south of Brainerd on Highway 25 and County Road 44 -- about four miles west of South Long Lake -- have reported about five dogs have died. There are reports that another four dogs were saved from being killed by poison. A German Shepherd in the neighborhood survived the poison twice.
Matt Eberts, a veterinarian at Lakeland Veterinarian in Baxter, said since August three dogs have died and three dogs survived another poison called D-Con rat poison. Eberts saw the first case where strychnine, a dangerous poison, was evident in the dog in January.
Reports also surfaced today that three dogs have been shot, one fatally, in Oak Lawn Township.
Strychnine is highly toxic. It causes failure of the central nervous system, and induces seizures. It is odorless and appears as colorless crystals or white to yellow powder.
According to neighbors, the dog poisoning began last May around Mother's Day.
Sgt. Neal Gaalswyk, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department, said the sheriff's department has responded to several calls concerning the poisoned dogs.
"The best thing people can do to protect their dogs is to keep them on their own property," Gaalswyk said.
Julie Vroman, Brainerd, began seeing dogs die from poison during this time. She knew of two cases and said the poisoning then stopped for awhile and then started up again in August.
"This winter I lost my two dogs," she said.
Vroman said dogs have been finding the poison that is hidden in food that is found in the yards. She has not seen any suspects dropping the poison off and wants it to stop.
Vroman runs a day care and there are four day care centers in the neighborhood where children could be at risk of accidentally taking the poison.
Laura Link also runs a day care in the neighborhood. She said she lost her dog to the poison.
"My dalmatian of seven years started having symptoms and we called the vet and they said just to give it an aspirin," said Link. "Later the dog went into seizures and we lost him."
Link's neighbor's dog died the next day.
Last Saturday night was the most recent episode. Mike and Renee Ladouceur's golden retriever lab died. Their dog ate the poison two weeks ago, but survived.
Renee Ladouceur said whoever is poisoning the dogs is being ruthless. She said for someone to do this to the pets is being cruel. She also noted the added risk with all the children in the neighborhood who could pick it up and eat the substance.
Neighbors said there are about seven homes in the area and dogs who stay in the yard or roam from the yard are getting into the poison.
"I want this to stop," said Link. "It's like taking away one of our kids from us."
Eberts said dog owners should check their yard for any strange piles and get rid of them because it could be poisoned. Eberts also said if the dog suffers tremors or has seizures that the owner should bring the dog into the veterinarian right away. He also advises dog owners to stay quiet because sound can trigger a seizure that will lead to the dog's death.
"The only way to save the dog from the poison is immediate treatment," said Eberts. "The dog has to be sedated for 24 hours to allow the poison to leave the body."
Eberts said if dogs are taken into the clinic early enough they can be saved. Usually if a dog is poisoned a person can begin seeing symptoms within a couple hours.
In a unrelated incident, three dogs have been shot in Oak Lawn Township in the Oak Hallow neighborhood.
Don Hannahs, animal control enforcement officer, said one dog has died and two others were injured in the shootings. The two surviving dogs were shot with a high-caliber rifle, he added.
Why the dogs were shot and by whom is still under investigation, Hannahs said.
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