North Vancouver RCMP are warning the public after two potential cases of dogs being poisoned while visiting the off-leash area of Lynnmouth Park.
The first incident happened on Tuesday (Oct. 4) morning.
“It started exhibiting symptoms like diarrhea and erratic behaviour,” said Const, Mansoor Sahak, North Vancouver RCMP spokesperson. “[The owner] took her to the vet and unfortunately, she died.”
The next day, another dog at the park also exhibited strange behaviour – chewing on its paw, diarrhea, running into objects. In that case, the dog did recover but the owner reported the incident to police.
“It's too early to tell if these incidents are a result of a deliberate attempt to poison dogs or the dogs were poisoned after ingesting a toxic plant or mushroom,” he said. “At this point, we have no evidence to suggest that it was an intentional act, but we're investigating all possibilities and trying to figure out what's going on.”
Jaimi MacCara, the owner of the dog who died, said it had been an otherwise usual visit to the Lynnmouth off-leash area with her dog Charlie playing with other regular visitors for about an hour. When it came time to go though, Charlie appeared to be disoriented and panicking and would not stop running. Other visitors to the park tried to corral her but were unsuccessful.
“She started foaming at the mouth,” MacCara said. “Towards the end of it, her two back legs gave out and she collapsed to the ground.”
Charlie was still alive on the way to Mountainside Animal Hospital, but MacCara said she appeared to be having seizures and her pupils had “blown up.”
The vets tried for about 15 minutes to resuscitate her.
“Eventually they stopped because she wasn't coming back,” MacCara said, in tears. “He said that it was likely an amphetamine of some sort based on the way that she responded… She was trying to run off the effects of it for about 40 minutes, and then, eventually, she couldn't outrun it.”
MacCara and her partner rescued Charlie, who had just turned two on Tuesday, from a litter in Manitoba when she was just a puppy. They had intended to foster her for a short time, but fell in love.
“She just brought joy and love to everybody that she met, she was so sweet with every single dog – big dog, little dog,” she said. “She was very cheeky. She loved socks.”
MacCara said she doesn’t want to see anyone blamed for what happened to Charlie, even if it was because someone left drugs behind at the site.
"We don't believe that this was malicious,” she said. “They just need to be taken better care of in our society.”
But, she said, she’d like to see the City of North Vancouver ensure that the park is maintained and cleaned. And she wants others to consider rescuing dogs in need of their forever home from an organization like Endless Pawsabilities Rescue Society, where Charlie came from.
“I wouldn't change anything. I'm glad we got to love her for as long as we did,” she said.
Lynnmouth Park visitor Maureen Roberts witnessed the incident on Tuesday. She reported what happened to the police and returned to the park later that day to put up signs at all the entrances warning visitors of what happened.
Regular users of the park say it’s almost always busy with dogs and owners during daylight hours, but since the signs went up, it’s been uncharacteristically vacant.
Sahak said investigators have been in touch with a vet on the matter and the file remains under investigation. In the meantime, however, pet owners should be extra vigilant and keep a close eye on anything their dog ingests while they’re out “specifically at this park,” he added.
The City of North Vancouver issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
“Our priority is ensuring our parks are safe spaces for all users and their pets, and we are working with the RCMP to support their investigation into the issue. Witnesses to the incident are asked to contact RCMP with details that may assist,” it read. “The city has been conducting extra park surveillance and patrols by park attendants and bylaws staff at Lynnmouth Park, and will continue to check the area for hazardous substances, as well as at all other dog parks. Park users are asked to contact City Bylaws at 604-982-8302 if they see park facilities needing attention, or for suspicious activities or concerns, contact RCMP non-emergency at 604-985-1311.”