Rat poison kills pets in Pontiac
By DAVE PHILLIPS Of The Oakland Press
It’s called rat poison, but the substance could just as easily be called pet poison if a recent rash of animal deaths in Pontiac is any indication.
Pam Porteous, manager of the Pontiac branch of the Animal Care Network, said she personally has picked up 13 dogs and cats that were dying after ingesting rat poison in the past two weeks. None of the animals could be saved.
“The owners (were) unaware that (rat poison) can kill a dog or a cat,” Porteous said.
“It causes internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. It completely fries their insides. If you don’t catch it quickly, they’ll die within a couple of days.”
Porteous said occasionally she will pick up a dog or a cat that has ingested rat poison, but having 13 in two weeks is “a lot.”
She blamed part of the problem on rundown areas in the city, which promote rat infestations in the area.
“There are a lot of rundown houses now, and people move into houses and don’t realize there’s poison in the basement or in the garage,” Porteous said. “These dogs (and cats) just get into it. They’re just getting into trouble, and they eat it.”
Symptoms of poisoning can be similar to symptoms of parvovirus, which can be vaccinated against, Porteous said. If a pet is up to date on its shots, parvovirus can be ruled out and appropriate action can be taken to counteract the effects of poison.
If rat poison must be used in a home with pets, it should be placed where no other animals can reach it, Porteous said. That’s easier said than done.
Antonia Hollins’ dog, Remy, became ill recently when he ate rat poison that was kept behind a chair in the home.
“When I first moved here, I guess the house had been abandoned for some time,” Hollins said. “I put poison down to keep rodents on the outside.”
Hollins said the poison was out even when Remy was a puppy, and he never messed with it. Now 14 months old, Remy went after the rat poison recently.
“I don’t know what made him go behind the chair that time,” Hollins said. She said she was not home at the time, but her daughter saw the rat poison on the floor and told her what happened.
They were told to give Remy some peroxide to induce vomiting shortly after he ingested the poison. It worked, and it didn’t take long for Remy to get back to normal.
“I gave him peroxide, he threw it up and then he was fine,” Hollins said. “That day … you could tell he was a little sick … but the next day he was back to doing what he was doing, tearing stuff up.”
Remy survived because his owners took action in time.
“You try to take precautions, but sometimes stuff does happen,” Hollins said. “As long as you react real quickly, it’s possible to save your animal. I’m very happy that he survived.”
The story didn’t have a happy ending for Tiffany Beden’s pit bull, Brick.
Brick found some rat poison behind a toilet in a basement bathroom and ingested it.
“I didn’t think he would get to it,” Beden said. “I was down there washing clothes and I (saw the rat poison) wasn’t behind the toilet where it (had been). It was all the way on the other side of the basement, and it was empty. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I think he ate it.’ ”
Beden didn’t call a veterinarian, though, and Brick seemed to be his normal, active self for a few days, she said.
“It took probably a week for him to break down,” she said.
At one point, she called Porteous, who picked Brick up, but he was too ill and had to be euthanized.
“I was devastated,” Beden said. “I cried for at least three days.”
Beden had Brick for eight months. She now has a new puppy and is determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I miss Brick, but I will never let anything like that happen to this (puppy),” Beden said. “Right after (Brick died) I cleaned all of (the rat poison) out and threw all of it away. It’s a mistake I will never make again.”