Monday, November 15, 1999

Unsolved paraquat
poisonings alarm
Maui pet owners

The herbicide has killed two dogs
and a cat in the last three weeks

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- Jane Morelli-Johnson said she took her two beagles out for a walk last week and thought they would be all right if they kept near the road.

Johnson said before she could react, she saw her dog Lucy swallow what looked like a charcoal briquet. She said a half-hour later, both her dogs were vomiting.

Lucy was the latest victim of paraquat poisoning; the other dog is still sick but alive.

Lucy was the third animal confirmed to have died of paraquat. In the last three weeks, the herbicide has killed one other dog and a cat.

The Maui Humane Society is holding a meeting to discuss the problem on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the old Kihei Community Center.

Every year for the past 10 years, about October, animals die of paraquat poisoning in the vicinity of Auhana Street, but the cases have never been solved.

Humane Society officials believe the animals eat food laced with paraquat while on walks.

Paraquat poisoning leads to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and difficulty in breathing.

Humane Society shelter manager Claire Sheehan said users are now required to register before buying paraquat.

Sheehan said the herbicide could have come from a supply obtained before the herbicide was regulated, because its shelf life is about 30 years.

The Humane Society is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the person leaving the paraquat-laced food in the neighborhood.

Johnson said neighbors whose golden retriever died recently from paraquat poisoning won't let her children out to play.

She said she can't understand how these poisonings remain unsolved.

"Does someone have to die before we see we have a very serious problem?" she said.

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