News Online: Police investigating after sudden dog death and dog illnesses

Published online at on March 31, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Thursday, March 31, 2011

Police investigating after sudden dog death and dog illnesses

Edmonton police are investigating after a string of recent dog illnesses and the sudden death of one healthy dog from earlier this week.

Amanda Lussier’s 10-year-old labrador cross Simon was healthy up until Monday.

But after taking Simon and her other dog Julie to the Terwillegar off-leash dog park that day, the lab suddenly became very sick.

“I went to work and my husband called me at 5 in the morning, panicked and found Simon lying at the end of the bed, convulsing and unresponsive, not breathing,” Lussier said.

Simon was rushed to an emergency clinic but died shortly after, leaving Lussier shocked and confused.

“He was always wagging his tail… he was just the happiest dog,” she said.

“I had actually joked with our regular vet that he would live for another ten years because his heart was so healthy.”

The vet who treated Simon at the emergency clinic told Lussier that her dog’s death was likely because of a toxin.

“(He) said when you have a really healthy dog who gets sick all of a sudden and dies, it’s usually a toxin that does it. He suspects it was,” Lussier said.

Lussier’s case along with several other dog owners reporting suddenly sick pooches is prompting the police to see whether someone is deliberately trying to poison dogs or if there’s another explanation.

Police say they are looking into half a dozen cases and several other sites where dogs have reportedly been poisoned over the past few weeks.

Along with Terwilliger’s park, other sites include Buena Vista Park and Calder Park.

Dr. John Williamson, a vet at the Edmonton Veterinarians’ Emergency Clinic, says while a “toxin” is on the list of potential causes for Simon’s death, it’s hard to be sure that is the reason.

Williamson adds that there are many items that could harm dogs, especially at an off-leash park.

“People need to be aware of where their dogs are,” Williamson said. “Even things that to us don’t seem that toxic like grapes and raisins and compost can be toxic and even potentially lethal to your pets.”

“Not only are there things that are potentially of malicious intent, I think those are pretty uncommon, but there’s a lot of things that dogs can get into especially at off-leash dog parks,” he said.

Still since Simon’s death, Lussier has started putting up signs to warn other dog owners, and she’s not the only one.

“I had actually been to Laurier Park the Sunday before and saw a sign there saying three dogs had been poisoned,” she said.

“But I go to those parks all the time, it wasn’t something I was too concerned about. You always think it can’t happen to you.”

Deliberate or not, pet owners are saying they’re now going to keep a closer watch over their animals.

“Simon got sick so quickly that it couldn’t have been something like an old fish or some garbage. It had to have been something very deadly,” Lussier said.

And keeping a closer watch over her animals, is something that Lussier now wishes had done.

“It’s really sad,” Lussier said. “It is really horrible if someone is poisoning dogs.”

With files from Linda Nguyen

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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