Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2011]
DOG PARK ALERT: We have received two notices.
Origins: These alarming warnings about food items booby-trapped with nails being left in dog parks
At the time this warning began circulating, we found no evidence that cheese embedded with nails had been discovered in Chicago or Massachusetts, or in any other U.S. dog park. It is true, however, that discoveries of similar booby-trapped food items have been reported in the U.S. and elsewhere:
- In October 2011, about two weeks after the photo of the nail-laden cheese began circulating online, two pieces of meat that had several framing nails "loosely attached" to their underside were reportedly found at the Buchanan Park dog park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
- Similarly, in January 2013 UK news sources reported the discovery of several dozen cocktail sausages spiked with nails at a popular dog-walking spot in Abergavenny, South Wales:
- In January 2013, residents of Canton, Michigan, reported finding pieces of meat and fish with pins and needles inserted into them in their neighborhood; two dogs underwent surgery to remove needles they swallowed while ingesting pieces of sausage found on the ground.
- In July 2003, eight dogs died and at least sixteen more fell ill after visiting Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Oregon, where they were believed to have ingested contaminated pieces of meat or sausage. (The residents of that area were then engaged in a dispute between pet owners who felt dogs should be free to roam that park and others who felt the city's leash law should be enforced there.)
- In 2009, cupcakes that had been injected with antifreeze were left out for the dogs who frequented Poplar Park in Port Perry (a town within commuting distance of Toronto, Canada). In 2008,
6 poocheswere felled (2 fatally)by antifreeze left in buckets of water in an off-leasharea of High Park in Toronto. Antifreeze is not the only poison that has been used: in 2004 in an off-leasharea of Withrow Park in Toronto, 16 dogswere poisoned after ingesting chunks of hot dogs spiked with a rare pesticide.
- In September 2012, Boston Police arrested a landscaper suspected of soaking pieces of hot dogs in antifreeze and leaving them spread out on grass for pets to eat (allegedly because he was disgruntled with dog owners who didn't clean up after their pets).
- In January 2013, a dog owner in Tigard, Oregon, reported that his dog became ill after drinking a suspicious substance "resembling green anti-freeze" from a bowl hidden behind a culvert at the Ash Avenue Dog Park.
A 7-year-old dachshund named Oskar was rushed to the vet after eating one of the meatballs. Dr. Carrie Journey says his symptoms are consistent with strychnine poisoning.
"This is a very rapidly absorbed toxin," she said. "This is something that gets in the system within 10 to 15 minutes. So it's important that people act quickly and get to a veterinarian ASAP if they think their dog has eaten something."
But Oskar may not be the only victim. Another dog is showing symptoms of strychnine poisoning, which includes agitation, hyper-reactivity to light and noise, and seizures.
And here's the big concern for dog owners — dozens of similar meatballs, stuffed with pellets, are being found all across the city. This includes neighborhoods like Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, Cole Valley, and lower Haight.
Veterinarians say strychnine poisoning is not that uncommon in pets. It's often used in food to get rid of skunks, coyotes, and raccoons, and can be ingested unintentionally by other animals.
Aulakh, Raveena. "Port Perry Dogs Poisoned with Antifreeze." Toronto Star. 24 March 2009. Clem, Darrell. "Neighbors: Tampered ‘Treats' Endangering Pets." Observer & Eccentric. 27 January 2013. Helms, Chris. "Arrest Made in Charlestown Landscaper Dog Poisoning Case." Charlestown Patch. 21 September 2012. Keller, Matt. "San Francisco Pet Owners Warned After Poisoned Meatballs Found." KGO-TV [San Francisco]. 4 July 2013. Schabner, Dean. "Eight Dogs Killed in Oregon Poison Spree." ABC News. 18 July 2003. Webb, Sam. "Police Hunt Sick Animal-Hater Who Has Been Scattering Cooked Sausages." Daily Mail. 17 January 2013. Canwest News Service. "6 Dogs Poisoned in Toronto; 2 Not Expected to Live." 23 June 2008. CBC News. "2 Dogs Die After Being Poisoned in High Park." 23 June 2008. KOIN-TV [Portland, OR]. "Suspicious Substance Found in Bowl at Tigard Dog Park." 31 Janaury 2013. Macleans. "Who Poisoned the Dogs of Withrow Park?" 16 February 2004. Perfil.com. "Hallan Comida Para Perros con Clavos en Parque Centenario." 25 July 2011. WPVI. "Nails Found in Meat Left at Pa. Dog Park." Associated Press. 18 October 2011.