A week after Riptide reported that several South Beach dogs had suffered sudden, sometimes lethal seizures, the animal hospital that treated four victims has confirmed what many suspected: The dogs ingested poison.
Lela Morales, a manager at Alton Road Animal Hospital, says the dogs almost certainly ate some kind of pesticide. "High up there on the list... is strychnine," she says, referring to the highly toxic and colorless powder frequently used to kill rats.
Four dogs were treated at the hospital after experiencing symptoms, which included sudden seizures as well as difficulty breathing and foaming at the mouth, over a three-day period beginning Saturday, November 8.
All of the dogs were young and healthy at the time they got sick, and three of the four experienced symptoms after walking in the same area, around Washington and Euclid avenues at Fifth and Sixth streets. Two of the four died, and the other two recovered.
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"It looked like he was getting fried from the inside," said Les Lehotay, a caretaker of Rocco, who was killed.
Morales said no more cases had come forward after the initial spate. But neither the hospital nor the City of Miami Beach, which was investigating the spate of dog deaths, had any conclusive answers about who laid the poison or why.
"We're hoping it's for the rats," Morales says, "and not the local pets."