Following the recent news of multiple ‘fake’ vets operating across the Cape, reports of more and more animals being poisoned by robbers have broken out.
“Death by poisoning is arguably the most cruel and inhumane way to kill an animal. Aldicarb (alternatively known as two-step or Temik) is most commonly used to poison dogs,” the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) said. “Criminals often use these illegal poisons to maliciously kill dogs before committing another crime, such as breaking and entering or motor vehicle theft.”
The organisation added that wildlife, too, is targeted by poisoners, sometimes falling victim to mass poisonings as a result of bait laced with lethal substances.
One of the main poisons, Aldicarb, which consists of small black grains similar in appearance to poppy seeds, Aldicarb, is so toxic that it can only be handled with gloves.
“A poisoned dog will start convulsing and will look as if worms are crawling on the body. The dog will vomit, drool and pupils may change size,” NSPCA said. “Unfortunately, there is no antidote for Aldicarb and it is a fast-acting poison, but if you can get your companion to a veterinarian in time, they may be able to neutralise the poison. Time is of the essence.”
As reported by IOL, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it had received a number of animals that had been poisoned, but added that this number fluctuates throughout the year.
It is fairly easy for people to buy illegal poisons or simply purchase rat poison from a shop, and many are unaware that it is illegal to use a poison that is registered for a specific kind of animal only on another species.
Rat poison takes up to five days to kill a rat, but for other animals, the time until they succumb to the substance depends on the type of poison ingested and how much is consumed.
In cases of pet poisonings by criminals, the thieves may toss pieces of poisoned food over walls of houses for dogs to eat, before breaking in. When a dog has been poisoned, its owner is advised to immediately administer activated charcoal as it slows the absorption of the poison by the body.
Administering a laxative is also advisable along with keeping the dog warm with a light blanket. The drug atropine is also commonly used to reverse damage caused by poison.