PARKMAN, Maine — The suspicious death of a Parkman dog from antifreeze poisoning and the sickening of a dog and cat in the Guilford area have prompted police to warn pet owners that someone may be deliberately poisoning pets.
“I don’t know if we’ve got somebody intentionally doing it, or it’s just a coincidence,” Investigator Jamie Kane of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
Kane said the Parkman dog first exhibited signs of disorientation and then lost weight rapidly before it died last month. When the owners learned from veterinarian Donald Champlin of Parkman that their dog not only had salmonella poisoning, but also was suffering from ethylene glycol toxicosis, or antifreeze poisoning, they contacted police.
Police seemed to think it was an isolated case until Champlin told them in recent days that he had treated a cat from Guilford which also had exhibited symptoms of antifreeze poisoning. In addition, Champlin noted that a Guilford-area dog owner had called him and inquired about symptoms his dog had that were similar, Kane said. The cat, which the vet treated, survived.
Kane said he had not yet made contact with the Guilford-area dog owner for an interview, but believed the dog was still alive based on comments made by Champlin.
“It was all about the same time, which is uncommon, according to the vet,” Kane said. He said he checked with the Foxcroft Veterinary Clinic in Dover-Foxcroft but it had not had any suspected pet-poisoning cases.
It’s not the first time someone was suspected of poisoning pets in Piscataquis County. In 2006, police and pet owners suspected that someone had poisoned pets in Abbot and in the Tenney Hill area in Monson. The area’s animal control officer reported that year that five dogs had died from seizures from what was believed to have been poisoned meat left in driveways. A bone recovered from an Abbot driveway was sent to an out-of-state laboratory, but it tested negative for poison. No arrests were made as a result of those incidents.
Gary Grant, who owned Churchill, the Parkman dog that died last month, said Monday that his dog’s condition first came to light in early December. He said the 2-year-old Labrador jumped off a couch and was going to run by his wife, Sheila, but plowed into her instead, “like he was drunk.”
The couple didn’t think too much of it until a week or so later, when they noticed Churchill was losing weight. Grant said he took the dog to Champlin, who diagnosed salmonella poisoning from a fecal sample. When the dog failed to improve after antibiotic treatment, he was taken back to the vet and was given a blood test, which revealed antifreeze poisoning, Grant said.
Churchill was kept a couple of times overnight at the veterinary clinic, where he received intravenous medicine, Grant said. He said the dog seemed to improve but would relapse after they took him home, so they returned to the clinic. The dog died about two weeks later.
Grant, who also owns a smaller dog, said he and his family live in a rural area on the Crow Hill Road and have always let their dogs run on their property without incident. The smaller dog used to run with the larger dog, but the small dog was not poisoned.
When the antifreeze poisoning was discovered, Grant said his family was angry and tried to figure out if it had done something to cause it. Family members double-checked all of their vehicles to make sure none was leaking antifreeze, and they searched the yard and surrounding area but found nothing, he said.
Believing that someone had left spoiled and poisoned meat out for the pets, his wife then alerted their neighbors who also had pets. No neighbors reported any problems, he said.
“That dog went through three weeks of pure agony, and hell, no animal should go through that,” Grant said.
He said he’s angry that someone could have been responsible for the pet’s death.
Kane cautioned pet owners to be on the alert but added, “There’s no certainty that this was an intentional act. I want people to be aware of it and if they find something unusual or suspicious in their yards, they should contact animal control or the police.”