Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pit bulls under attack

By Brian Bohnert, from Review Times

Fostoria, OH

A Fostoria woman is mourning the loss of one of her dogs after she said a slew of neighborhood pit bulls were mysteriously poisoned nearly two weeks ago.

Since the beginning of June, eight pit bulls have been rendered extremely ill with four of them now dead as a result of an apparent rash of poisonings that occurred at random points between Fremont and Tiffin streets, said Fostoria resident Emily Sands.

Sands, who resides at 112½ N. Union St., said she and her family recently lost their 7-month-old female pit bull Sophie and are nursing their 8-month-old male, Hunter, back to health after both canines became violently ill within days of each other.

Sands said she first noticed Sophie was sick on June 14 when the dog was stricken with violent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, followed by a loss of appetite and dehydration. Initially suspecting either a material obstruction or the highly-contagious Canine Parvovirus or "Parvo," she and her husband rushed the dog to the office of their veterinarian, Dr. Chris Seidler, on June 18. The next day, at around 5:30 p.m., Sophie died.

"It was hard. It was very hard," Sands said. "She was part of our family just like my own kids are."

After performing an autopsy on Sophie, Dr. Seidler told the family the dog's Parvo test came back negative and he saw nothing blocking her insides. The problem, however, was the severe inflammation and redness inside the dog's intestines that pointed to toxicity.

"I did an autopsy to see if she had any lacerations from chewing on things and there was none and there was no foreign material," Seidler said. "But the entire intestinal tract was inflamed and she had discoloration around the eye sockets which you don't normally see in a dog unless it has a severe toxicity problem ... Parvo causes inflammation of the bowels but it tested negative and the dog died very quickly so no chemical tests were able to be done."

Since the wave of canine illnesses began, Sands said there have been four different locations where her neighbors have noticed their pit bulls developing similar symptoms. The same day Sophie died, her other dog Hunter became sick as well as a 7-month-old pit bull belonging to her neighbor, Brad Ray. There have also been two other confirmed cases where area pit bulls have experienced similar symptoms associated with poisonings.

Given the curious nature of dogs, Dr. Seidler said it is quite possible that, if not properly supervised while outside, a canine could easily be susceptible to consuming a potentially toxic substance like Decon, antifreeze or rodenticides.

"When they have an acute sign, it's usually something toxic," Seidler said. "It could have gotten into a number of things; and, if someone wanted to throw something into a yard, there are many things available for people to obtain that have no known antidote. Things like Decon have an antidote, but there are some things that if they eat it, they're dead."

Since word got out, Sands has seen a number of friends approaching her via social media with similar situations of their dogs turning up mysteriously ill. And with all of the cases involving pit bulls, she said all signs are pointing to a deliberate attack on a misunderstood breed that has a long history of being known for aggressive behavior.

"The logical conclusion I'm drawing in my head is that it is somebody that does not like pit bulls," Sands said of the source of the poisonings.

While she cannot think of anyone that would personally want to harm her dogs, Sands said common stereotypes and misconceptions, combined with intimidating physical characteristics, make pit bulls a common target.

"I don't know if it's just a bunch of punk kids walking around throwing things into yards, but we've already lost one of our family members," she said. "My daughter is heart-broken, my other daughter is upset, I'm upset, my husband is upset, and we now have one dog that's sick but doing better than he has been doing so far ... They are the best dogs we've ever had. There's not a mean bone in their bodies."

According to Sands, Ray contacted both the Fostoria Police Department and the Seneca County Humane Society last Saturday and had them send representatives to the neighborhood to survey the area, checking the ground for remnants of anything that could have poisoned the dogs.

Attempts for comment from FPD and the Humane Society went unanswered Monday.

Sands said anyone with any information regarding the incident is encouraged to contact the Fostoria Police Department at 419-435-8573 or the Seneca County Humane Society at 419-447-5704.

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