A Worthing councillor has said he is investigating someone ‘deliberately’ poisoning dogs after a series of incidents in a park.
The Herald has spoken to four dog owners whose pets have become ill over the last few weeks after walking in Tarring Park.
Bob Smytherman, councillor for Tarring ward, said it was a serious issue, with potentially sinister causes, that he was looking into personally.
“This is a serious issue in the park at the moment,” he said.
“I spoke with owners at the weekend and someone is deliberately trying to poison dogs.
“Russ the dog warden [from Worthing Borough Council] is investigating for me, but we need as much evidence as possible as he can’t be in the park all the time.
“Readers can send their evidence to me confidentially if they wish.”
On Thursday (March 28), Tarring resident Keith Gurney said his cockerpoo, Barney, had to have its stomach emptied after ingesting what looked like ‘rat poison’ left in the middle of the park.
Keith collected the pellets and took them to his vet, Northdale Veterinary Surgery, which could not confirm if they were poisonous but said they seemed to be rat poison pellets.
A couple of weeks before, on March 11, Worthing resident Jan Spooner Swabey was forced to take her dogs Jonty and Domingo to the vets after a walk in Tarring Park left them with violent sickness and diarrhea, with Jonty not eating properly for a week.
Around a week later, Steve Balut, from Ferring, was walking his 7-year-old rottweiler, Dexter, in Tarring Park when it began eating something in the bushes.
Dexter suffered from sickness and diarrhea for the next two weeks, at one point losing 3kg in four days. The dog is only just returning to health.
Steve said he had been walking dogs in the area for 15 years and had seen many malicious poisoning attempts in that time, including a lamb leg peppered with slug pellets last Christmas, and a chicken covered in anti-freeze the winter before.
“There are some quite strange people out there, who have issues with dog walkers and dogs,” he said.
Around the same time as Dexter became ill, Teresa Price’s King Charles spaniels Obi and Padmé became sick within a day of each other after walking in Tarring Park.
She said the Tarring Park dog walkers have formed a small community which looked out for one another and cleared up rubbish in the area, and the number of ‘weird’ illnesses in such a short space of time had set alarm bells ringing among the walkers.
A spokesman for Worthing Borough Council confirmed it was responding to the incidents.
“We are aware of a number of reports of dogs becoming ill in recent days after being walked in Tarring Park,” said the spokesman.
“As a precaution, we will be increasing dog warden patrols in the area and ask that any residents who are concerned about the welfare of animals in this location contact us on 01903 221064 with any information.”