CENTREVILLE, Va. - A neighborhood is on alert after two dogs died from apparent poisonings. A 5-month-old pitbull and an adult West Highland terrier died after eating a meatball-type object that had apparently been left in their backyards on Thursday, Fairfax County Police Officer Don Gotthart says.
"It doesn't seem to be a random type of thing," Gotthart says.
Animal control officers are patrolling the area around Olddale Road in Centreville and notifying neighbors.
"If you have pets, if you don't have pets, if you have children, check your yard for anything that looks out of place," Gotthart says.
Police are also advising people to keep their dogs on a leash and contact them if they see anything suspicious.
Update May 27, 2010 7:00pm - The Washington Examiner is reporting that the police canvassed neighborhood yards and found the toxic meatballs in three backyards.
The meatballs have been sent to a lab for testing.
Police are advising residents, especially those with small children and pets, to inspect their yards for any unusual or suspicious-looking items. If any such items are located, do not touch them; call police immediately.
Update May 28, 2010 11:06am - NBC Washington reports that investigators continue to look for the person who threw the tainted meatballs into the yards.
Update June 17, 2010 10:14am - The following article is by Kate Ryan, WTOP:
Deaths of two dogs blamed on poison
CENTREVILLE, Va. - Police say poison is to blame for the deaths of two family dogs in Centreville last month. Fairfax County police say strychnine, a poison commonly used in pesticides to kill rats, was found in meatballs that killed a 5-month-old pit bull and a West Highland Terrier in May. The meatballs turned up in the yards of two homes in the Olddale Road area.
Police say pesticides containing strychnine have not been registered for use in Virginia since 1989. No other poisonings have been reported in the area.
Who put the meatballs in the yard and why are still part of the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, email or text "TIP187" and your message to CRIMES/274637.
Update July 13, 2010 1:18pm - The following is from Fairfax Times:
Poison in Centreville dog deaths identified
County police say that after a thorough analysis, they have determined the poisonous substance responsible for the death of two dogs in Centreville on May 26 is strychnine.
On May 26 around 5 p.m., Fairfax County Animal Control officers responded to a home in the 15100 block of Old Dale Road in Centreville where it was reported that a five-month-old pit bull puppy had ingested a meatball tainted with an unidentified, toxic substance and became ill.
An adult West Highland Terrier at a neighboring home had also ingested a tainted meatball at around the same time, police said. Both dogs died.
Additional strychnine-laced meatballs were found in the back yards of a total of three homes close to each other.
Police say no strychnine pesticide products have been registered for use in Virginia since 1989. Prior to that year however, there were many rodent control products containing strychnine which were used widely.
Police have conducted numerous interviews as part of their investigation into the deaths of the dogs, however no charges have yet been made. There have been no additional poisonings in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.