By Jessica Anstice
There are fears dogs are being poisoned in a popular Berwick park after many pets have fallen violently ill and the death of one much-loved Labrador.
Devastated dog owner, Tracy Wilkinson, made the heartbreaking decision to euthanise their beloved pet, Zac, after a suspected case of dog baiting, at or near Akoonah Park in Berwick.
However vets have not yet confirmed whether the death is definitely linked to dog baiting.
Within about four hours after walking through the park, the 14-year-old white Lab became extremely unwell – he was lethargic, disorientated, agitated, lost his appetite and began to vomit.
“The vet put it down to the cancer he had but a blood test showed his liver toxicity was three times the acceptable rate,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“Our vet said it indicated that he had eaten something toxic rather than his cancer.
“We are missing him terribly – he was such a gentle dog and had fought and survived so many battles. He should never have died because of someone else’s cruelty, especially at Akoonah Park. He got up everyday for his walk there.”
A number of other dogs have had their stomachs pumped after eating what most suspect is marijuana in human faeces.
Berwick resident, Stephanie Elaine, rushed her two-year-old Groodle, Evie, to Casey Pet Emergency after noticing the dog was very weak on her feet following a walk through Akoonah Park on Sunday 31 May.
“She was swaying, had virtually collapsed and was drooling by the time I got her to the emergency vets,” Ms Elaine said.
“They kept her in overnight, did tests and gave her charcoal to induce vomiting. She was put on a drip straight away as they seemed to know what was going on because they had had several dogs with the same symptoms.
“The vets called it early. Tests of toxicity came back positive for cannabis and together with faecal matter that they pumped out of her stomach, they said it would have been a deliberate act.”
Ms Elaine claims her furry friend is lucky to be alive after hearing it may have been an intentional attack.
“I’m very angry and sad as she could have lost her life as another dog has,” she said.
“Evie is doing ok, she’s still sluggish and tired but she is going to be ok.”
Play also turned to terror for Jodie Cunliffe’s one-and-a-half-year-old Kelpie Billy at Akoonah Park on Tuesday 2 June.
Billy was rushed to the vet after she had been vomiting all day, unable to even keep water down.
“We still don’t know what’s wrong with him but it’s possible it’s the bait from Akoonah Park,” Ms Cunliffe said.
“He is still not well and he will continue to monitor him. He may need to go back to the vet.
“He has been having tremors – it looks like he is dreaming but he’s awake.”
Just a few months ago, Em Galea Bau’s seven-month-old Boxer, Archie, experienced similar symptoms after running around Akoonah Park.
“I have just connected that it’s happened to a few dogs at the time it happened to ours,” the Narre Warren resident said.
“I didn’t think anything of it but now we are hearing more cases and it’s making sense.
“Now I know others are going through it too – it has made me think about where it’s come from.”
Young Archie was left vomiting while not being able to walk on his back legs.
“We took him to the vet and he stayed for a couple of days. They said after tests that he had eaten something toxic but couldn’t pin point what it was,” she recalled.
“It’s sad we have to go through this and that people can be so cruel.
“But at least if people are aware and vets are aware, they can treat it straight away as there have been many cases.”
While there was no evidence to suggest the potential bait was placed maliciously, it has certainly caused a stir within the local community.
On a post published by Akoonah Park to social media, many dog-owners stated that it is also happening in other parks around the City of Casey, including Holm Park.
Dog owners who frequent Akoonah Park and surrounding parks are being urged to stay vigilant.
City of Casey has been contacted for comment.