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My dogs were poisoned—and no one seems to care

This story just happened over the past few days, and it shows that the deadly poisons that are being banned from California (as of July 1) is happening too late for our dogs, and that there is complete impotency on the part of law officials about what to do if your dog is actually poisoned. (See slide show and informational video, too.)

Rex is in serious condition after poisoning, the other puppies are better
Rex is in serious condition after poisoning, the other puppies are better
Mike Szymanski, Studio City Community Activism Examiner
Charley and Seal (left) are OK now, but their papa Rex (right) is in serious condition after poisoning. These are from Johnny's Dachshund book.
Johnny Ortez-Tibbels

Our one-eared black Dachshund Rex turned his nose up to food on Wednesday, and that was a bad sign.

My Dachshund advocacy friend Johnny Ortez-Tibbels just had a scare with his Dachshund named Emily who wasn’t eating and they found a blockage on X-rays. It ended up being an apricot pit and when it dislodged, she was fine.

We have avocado trees here in the Hollywood Hills of California, maybe Rex got into that and swallowed a pit, I thought.

Rex, who is not a whiner like his two chubby puppies, whimpered as if he was hurt when I picked him up. He seemed cold, so I gave him a warm bath and checked him for bites, or insects, or sensitive spots on his long sleek body. Rex is six years old, and lost his ear to a mountain lion attack at a kennel in upstate New York when he was a puppy. His brother was mauled, but Rex fought, and continues to be the alpha dog of the house, since the recent passing of our red Doxie Rudi.

I called the Studio City Animal Hospital, where we have gone for emergencies many times in the past, and was told to bring him in unless I could get him to our usual veterinarian by the next morning.

First thing Friday morning, I took Rex in. Dog temperatures range around 100-101 F. Rex was 94 degrees. That was dangerously low, and that confirmed me knowing that he was too cold the night before.

They were going to check for cancer, for a bad heart, and possible poisoning.

Within a short time, Dr. Selva Kumar of the Sunset Animal Hospital in Hollywood, called and said not only was he 95 percent sure that Rex suffered from rat poisoning, but he suggested I check the other dogs. Sure enough, their gums were white, like Rex’s. (I know that was unusual because I had just brushed their teeth two days before.) That showed they had signs of poisoning, too.

I took the chubby puppies to the doctor for vitamin K shots and they underwent a series of tests. They were not as affected by the poison, and maybe their fat helped absorb some of it.

Immediately, I scoured the yard. Earlier in the week, I saw one of the construction workers throw a half-eaten burger over the fence, and Charley gobbled it up. I ran outside and shouted to him, but he was already running up the hill with his friend, laughing.

I thought nothing of it, until Friday when I found a lot of fast-food wrappers thrown over the fence, and also a few blue-green pebbles that looked like it came from our fish aquarium. Then, I found the half-empty can of d-CON.

That is rat poison. It’s poison with a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide that causes uncontrollable internal bleeding and a slow agonizing death. It turns out that such poisonings were happening to mountain lions, hawks, foxes and endangered species in California, which is why poisons like d-CON are being banned in the state.

The ban takes place July 1, just a few weeks too late for my dogs.

That slow-acting painful death was now happening to our Rex, and there was nothing that could be done. Dr. Kumar said a puncture to relieve the fluids around his heart could cause bleeding that he couldn’t stop. Rex has a strong heart, though, and that could help him.

Conspiracy theorist friends were saying that perhaps a recent series of stories I was working on about local dog attacks may have caused someone to take revenge on my dogs. Others have suggested that the workers who have tormented and barked at the dogs were exacting revenge now that their work up the hill was done. They told me to go to the police.

Los Angeles Police Hollywood Division Front Desk Sgt. Halleck said he was a dog lover too, and empathized with my story, but said unless the dog was stolen, this was not a crime. (And, by the way, if a cat was stolen, that doesn’t count at all.) He gave me the number for the city’s Animal Services Department.

Officer Lopez there told me that they would only do an investigation if I had a photo or video of someone actually throwing the poison over the fence. He suggested that we get a video camera to patrol the outside of the house.

The authorities couldn’t help—even if it was considered a crime at all.

I write this all down only a few days after I discovered that the dogs were poisoned, mostly as a cautionary tale. Also, you may be just a little surprised about how little can be done.

It is beyond comprehension to me that someone would take out their anger on a helpless little dog for something their human may have done. In fact, if there are such people, that may change my stance on implementing the Death Penalty (sorry, Mike Farrell).

Rex has a 50-50 chance of making it through next week, and the doctor says Rex’s recovery could be weeks or months.

The whole experience just makes me feel a bit helpless, and I think that people may be surprised to see what actually can (or cannot) be done in such circumstances.

Here is the update on Rex, and a funny video with his two babies:

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