A DISTRAUGHT Donaghadee man has issued an urgent warning to pet owners to be vigilant after his beloved dog died suddenly from suspected poisoning.
Rudy, a six year-old Jack Russell and Chihuahua cross, passed away last Thursday and his vet believes this much loved family pet was poisoned.
Rudy’s owner, Gregg Donley, explained Rudy became ill after they walked along The Commons in Donaghadee, a popular walking spot for dog owners.
“We had been stopped a couple of days before and been told to be careful as rat poison had been down along The Commons past the tennis courts,” said Gregg.
“I would urge dog owners to be careful, it is not a myth, it is not a rumour, it happened to mine.”
A passionate dog owner, Rudy was one of Gregg’s four dogs and they regularly enjoyed walking this coastal route: “We were just walking over The Commons on Wednesday, Rudy was one of four dogs and we walked nowhere else,” he said.
The following morning Rudy was gravely ill as Gregg recalled: “He was lying up on the deck, he was taking a fit and had bit through his tongue. He was rigid and shaking and we rushed him to the vets who rushed him straight through and tried to settle him.
“They gave him everything they could and after 10 minutes of calming him down slightly there was nothing they could do. They said he had been poisoned. It wasn’t a nice death for him and it was awful to watch.”
Gregg said this was not the first instance that a dog had become sick after walking along this area. “I had heard other people tell us that their dogs had been sick after walking along there. I really want this to stop,” he said.
“Kids play all around there. To a small child rat poison can smell quite attractive and it looks like a sweet, a small child could pick that up.”
The local pet owner is calling for tougher legislation to govern the sale of poisons. “Rat poison has to be controlled, it should not be scattered willy nilly, it has to be contained. If rats eat it and die and then are eaten by birds of prey, then they can become sick and it can have a knock on effect,” he said.
Bangor East and Donaghadee councillor Mark Brooks said he had reported the incident to the council and echoed calls for tougher controls for the sale of poisons.
He said: “We need to alert dog walkers that this is happening, the council should be warning people. I would be very concerned if I had a dog, I would be very concerned if it was my beloved pet as all animals are part of a family. When a member of the public buys rat poison there should be a licence, it should be limited.”
A council spokesman said the PSNI can investigate incidents of suspected poisoning and advised Mr Donley to contact them with all relevant information.
“Rat poison is available for sale from a number of retailers. The Health and Safety Executive is the regulator and would be able to provide more details about any restrictions,” he said.
“Our sympathies are with the Donley family after what has obviously been a very distressing incident. Until more information is available, the public and dog walkers should exercise caution in the area.”