Poison in the park

RSPCA WA is warning all pet owners to look out for dog baiting after an incident at Robin park in Sorrento on March 17, which resulted in a dog being rushed to the vet.

Andrea Boss is the owner of Bronte, a 2 year-old labrador, who was allegedly baited after ingesting snail pellets at the park.

Andrea Boss discussing what happened on the day she realised her dog had possibly been baited. Video: Kate Geldart.

“This is a dog-friendly park so for someone to intentionally put poison or bait down, it’s very concerning,” she says.

“Normally she can get time on the lead and off the lead, now when she’s off the lead we follow her closely.

“We’re always around it’s just that she runs around the park so we just have to make sure we keep up with her.’’

Dog baiting is an act which involves intentionally targeting an animal with poison, usually because a person is annoyed about dogs barking in their residential area.

Baiting is an extremely painful way for a dog to die and can cause devastation to the pet owner or family involved.

Poisoning will often occur in public places, such as dog parks, bushland, or sometimes the bait is even thrown over residential fences into pet owners’ backyards.

RSPCA WA executive manager animal and enforcement operations Hannah Dreaver says so far this year RSPCA WA has received 33 reports of suspected intentional poisonings, the equivalent of two to three reports per week.

“This is a marked increase of 32 per cent compared to the same period last year,” she says.

“This could indicate more people are deliberately baiting animals, or it could mean more people are speaking up when they see something suspicious or their animal is impacted.”

How to keep your dogs safe from baiting. Infographic: Kate Geldart.

The ingredients in snail and rodent baits are highly toxic to dogs, with rat baits affecting the kidneys and nervous system, and snail baits mostly impacting the nervous system.

Signs of baiting in dogs can include weakness, difficulty in breathing, bruising, excessive panting and drooling, coughing or vomiting.

“Pet owners shouldn’t have to worry about their beloved animal being targeted in their own backyard, but tragically deliberate poisonings do occur, so pet owners need to do what they can to reduce the risk,” Ms Dreaver says.

“If pet owners are aware of neighbourly concerns regarding their pet, they should be proactive about addressing them.

“If you need support with your dog barking excessively, contact your vet for advice.’’

Dog owners highlighting ways in which they keep their dogs safe. Video: Kate Geldart.

WA Pet Project was established to improve the relationship pet owners have with their pets. Pet Project president Michelle O’Neill says deliberate poisoning of dogs is disgusting.

“Poisoning any animal, it’s a slow and torturous death. There is always another solution that doesn’t involve harming the animal. That’s just animal cruelty. There’s no excuse for that type of behaviour,” she says.

“If you have a problem with an animal then you need to communicate as an adult and reach out to the ranger, reach out to the police, if you can’t communicate with the neighbour who has the dog.

“We’re against any form of rough handling or aversive methods, and baiting is one of the most aversive methods there is…we cannot support those practices in any way, shape or form.”

Hannah Dreaver says the RSPCA takes baiting reports very seriously and investigates all avenues thoroughly.

“Maximum penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 in WA are a jail sentence of five years and a fine of $50,000,” she says.

“Reporting baitings to RSPCA WA allows us to warn other pet owners so they can take extra precautions.”

Suspected deliberate pet poisonings should be reported to RSPCA via the cruelty hotline on 1300 278 3589.