A DOG that died a ‘terrible’ death after a walk at a nature reserve was most likely poisoned, according to vets.
Bob Roffey, 85, of Upper Boundstone Lane in Sompting, lost his springer spaniel Ben after a walk at Lancing Ring to what vets believe may have been Paraquat, a common but highly-toxic weed killer.
Ben, a rescue dog from WADARS, was taken ill and began dribbling excessively and having trouble breathing.
Mr Roffey rushed the dog to Northdale in Worthing where staff gave Ben anti-inflamatory drugs.
But Ben’s condition worsened and the vet decided to operate, but the dog did not survive the surgery.
“I’m very sad to lose him this way,” said Mr Roffey.
“It was a terrible death, he suffered horribly.”
Mr Roffey had only had Ben for eight months after taking the dog on from WADARS rescue centre.
Ben had been abused as a pup, kept in confinement and underfed, but was making good progress.
Mr Roffey said he believed the poison was left by people baiting foxes.
WADARS senior animal rescue officer Billy Elliott said leaving poison out for foxes was illegal and irresponsible, and urged people with pest-control problems to seek advice from the council rather than acting ‘completely indiscriminately.’
But Mr Elliott said it was easy to jump to conclusions and the poison could have come from farmers’ crops.
Mr Roffey said a number of his friends had lost dogs over the years after visits to the reserve.
Friends of Lancing Ring secretary Adrienne Stevenson said any reports of poisoning were taken seriously and the investigated by the council, but nothing had been reported yet.
Vet Helen Butcher operated on Ben at Northdale surgery and said although she could not be certain, it was likely a toxin killed Ben, possibly Paraquat, due to the respiratory problems and intestinal damage she found, and the dog’s rapid decline from ‘relatively well’ to dead in the space of 24 hours.
She said Mr Roffey had been doing ‘a cracking job’ of rehabilitating Ben and making the dog less nervous after the abuse it had suffered.
She added that she doubted whether the poison had been left out deliberately as it was hard to come by these days.
“It’s very hard for Mr Roffey and very unfortunate but I don’t think it’s likely to be an epidemic,” she said.
“I doubt other dogs are going to be affected.”