RCMP in Trail, BC, are warning residents to keep their pets indoors after the poisoning deaths of two dogs.
Police said they were alerted to the deaths on Tuesday, even though the dogs died Sunday and Monday, respectively.
They occurred in a rural neighborhood on the Trail, approximately 300 kilometers southeast of Kelowna.
In the first case, a family found their four-year-old golden retriever, Sugar, dead in the yard shortly after taking her for a walk.
The next day, the police said a neighbor border collie named Hank was seen eating a mysterious piece of meat in the yard. He went into convulsions and died within the next twenty minutes.
Laboratory testing reveals the presence of the deadly pesticide strychnine in Hank’s system, and police believe that is what killed Sugar, as well.
Sugar’s owner, Dena Wyna, says her family is devastated by the loss of their beloved pet.
“My nine-year-old son absolutely loved her. He was traumatized, and very, very hurt,” she said.
Police suspect illegal baiting
RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich says police believe someone in the area was likely trying to bait coyotes and wound up killing domestic dogs instead.
He says the practice used to be legal and it’s likely some people in the area still have access to a supply of the poison.
“We don’t believe that anyone, at this time, was trying to target family pets,” he said.
Strychnine has in the past been used to control ground squirrels and predators, primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
However, its use for this purpose has been banned by Health Canada as of March 4, 2023.
In BC, the use of poisons to kill predators without a permit is also illegal, but the SPCA warns it regularly shows up in the deaths of both wildlife and pets.
The Conservation Officer Service has been notified of the dogs’ deaths, and the RCMP are warning other pet owners to be vigilant while they investigate, recommending dogs be kept inside, leashed or fenced to avoid being poisoned.