Thursday, June 24, 1999

Meat tossed to
dogs was poisonous

The meat and samples taken
from a dead animal contain
a deadly pesticide

By Susan Kreifels


Meat thrown into two St. Louis Heights yards and samples from a dead golden retriever have tested positive for paraquat, the Hawaiian Humane Society says.

And another sick dog is believed to have been poisoned by the deadly pesticide, Humane Society officials said yesterday.

Tests from a dead dog in Manoa tested negative for paraquat, but vets said the tests are unreliable without a fresh urine sample taken soon after exposure to the poison.

The Humane Society and Honolulu Police Department are investigating the deaths of four St. Louis Heights dogs and one Manoa dog in the past month that showed symptoms of suspected paraquat poisoning.

All dogs walked in the Waahila Ridge State Recreation Area atop St. Louis or along the trails that run from the park down to Dole Street. Investigators said they don't have any suspects.

Humane Society spokeswoman Eve Holt said the poisoned meat was found in the yards of two St. Louis homes that lost dogs.

A dog that belongs to a tenant in one of the homes is now sick of suspected paraquat. There is little vets can do to save victims of the poison, which attacks the respiratory system and leads to agonizing deaths.

The Humane Society believed the poisonings occurred in Waahila Ridge park before they received positive tests on the meat found in the two yards.

A controlled substance

The pesticide is a controlled substance and only about 150-200 Oahu people are certified to use the poison, which is deadly to humans as well. Holt said anyone using the highly toxic pesticide would have to wear gloves and possibly respirators to protect themselves.

Sgt. Russell Ikeda with HPD's misdemeanors follow-up detail in East Honolulu and Waikiki said members of the St. Louis Heights community have started a neighborhood watch to look out for suspicious people and activities in the area.

Residents have connected the pet deaths to barking dogs in the neighborhood or stray cats in the park. "It's all speculation," Ikeda said. "We've canvassed the area, and everybody is pointing fingers at everybody else."

Holt said two cats in the area possibly died from the poison.

Dr. Russell Shoji, a vet at University Pet Clinic in Manoa, said samples from a dead dog there tested negative to paraquat. The death could have resulted from complications due to pancreatitis, for which the dog was being treated.

But since the paraquat testing is unreliable, Shoji said such poisoning could not be totally ruled out.

Shoji recommended that the state take samples in the park area to test for paraquat. Holt said the state Department of Agriculture has done some testing in the area.

Keep animals on a leash

Holt said the best way to prevent pet poisoning is to keep animals on a leash when walking them and not allow them to eat anything outside. She also warned people to take extra caution at Waahila Ridge.

If you suspect poisoning -- vomiting and diarrhea, weakness, inflammation of the mucous membrane in the mouth, lack of coordination. convulsions and breathing problems, get your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.

Numbers to call for information: National Pesticide Telecommunication Network, 1-800-858-7877; National Animal Poison Control Center, 1-888-426-4435; and the Humane Society on Oahu, 946-2187.

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