Thursday, August 23, 2012

More about the Riverside Drive poisonings.

I took Max there this morning--cautiously--and saw no evidence of anything remotely toxic--not even chicken bones, since they seem to be shutting down the impromptu barbecues people have been holding on that shady section of Riverside Drive that runs alongside Riverside Park in the 140's.

I did run into a fair few dog people out with their dogs, and seeing one group of happily interacting pooches (some of whom Max and I happen to know), we stopped, and I asked for the straight dope.  And of course everybody had a slightly different story, and nobody had actually talked to any of the people who lost their dogs.  Seems like six dogs have been poisoned (I assume all fatally, but I don't know).  One thought all the incidents had happened south of 145th--another said they were all below 136th, which is very near the community garden, and one could easily imagine somebody putting poison out there to get rid of rats and other varmints.  Maybe somebody got overenthusiastic about this, and put some of the poison where dogs could get at it--or maybe it was something else entirely.

Not at all clear whether the poison bait was on paved public walkways, or on dirt.  The parks department (in other stories ASPCA) put out warning signs, but they don't seem to be there anymore.  Nobody knew of any incidents in the past week, and the sense I'm getting about this is that it probably wasn't a deliberate attempt to poison dogs--but that's based on very sketchy intel, and it's impossible to say with any certainty.

So basically, take care about anything your dog eats off the sidewalk--always, everywhere--but there doesn't seem to be any particular risk connected to walking your dog on 'Roverside Drive', between 153rd and 145th, and it may be that the poisonings all occurred below the point where the shady tree-lined section of Riverside ends.    I'll try to find out more, and if I hear of any further incidents, I'll post it here immediately. 

Rat poison is usually dyed green or blue.  Avitrol, a poison used on birds (particularly pigeons), that is very dangerous for dogs as well, is usually applied to dried corn kernels, which dogs are less likely to eat, but steer them clear anyway.  If your dog eats something and then shows any sign of sickness, get him to a vet immediately.  If yours isn't available right away, try a veterinary ER, of which there are several in Manhattan.  Time is always of the essence in this kind of situation. 

And if you do see anything that could be poisonous, on any public walkway, alert authorities--Parks Department, police, etc.  Don't just leave it there for somebody else's dog to find.  Sometimes poisons are needed for pest control, but under no circumstances should they ever be spread where dogs (or children) could come into contact with them.  And they should not be used in public spaces by unauthorized persons--period.  But they sometimes are. 

And our dogs still need to go out.  And it's a very pleasant place to walk with them.  And this could happen anywhere, but seems like places where the sidewalks run alongside parkland are particularly worth watching.

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