Pets Poisoned in New York

Four dogs died in a two-day span after walking in the park
By JoAnna Lou, September 2012

My Sheltie, Nemo, is always on the hunt for a snack, so I’m always worried that he’ll eat something bad. I take all sorts of precautions, like checking hotel room floors for abandoned medication and watching Nemo like a hawk when we’re on walks. But it’s impossible to see everything that goes into his mouth.

When I lived in Manhattan, I was always worried about rat poison left to control the rodent population. So I was horrified to learn that four dogs died in my old Upper West Side neighborhood from a toxin, possibly left to intentionally harm them. A dog lover’s worst nightmare.

During a two-day span in July, a Chihuahua, terrier mix, French Bulldog mix, and Shih Tzu starting seizing, vomiting, and frothing at the mouth after walking in Riverside Park. One of the dogs died on the way to the animal hospital and the other three at the veterinarian.

After ruling out a number of possibilities, all of the vets came to the same conclusion—all four dogs ingested a toxic substance. Then, an anonymous call came in from a man claiming that the poison was left intentionally. The caller said that a local building superintendent admitted to placing poison in the park because he was tired of people not picking up after their dogs.

Devastated, Kim Heismann, whose dog Charlie passed away, started posting warning signs in the area and reported the pattern of poisonings to the ASPCA. The neighborhood began rallying for action and the ASPCA is now investigating the case. PETA is also offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone found to be responsible.

Many of the Upper West Side residents have been walking in Riverside Park with their dogs and children for years. This tragedy has made everyone question the safety of the neighborhood. I hope that they find out who did this soon and that no other dogs are hurt.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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