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Tag: toxic

How a single penny can kill your dog

Sierra, a West Highland terrier in Colorado, had 26 cents in her stomach.

But it was the single penny that killed her.

Owner Maryann Goldstein said Sierra was always attracted to change. As a puppy, the Westie swallowed 32 cents and had to have it surgically removed. In March, Sierra got sick again, and X-rays at the vet’s office showed a quarter and penny in her stomach.

The smaller coin was the bigger concern.

Pennies minted after 1982 contain zinc, and that’s toxic to dogs and cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance, told CBSNews.com that newer pennies are toxic because gastric acid from the pet’s stomach reaches the zinc center, causing it to be absorbed in the body rapidly.

She said zinc interferes with red blood cell production, and the longer the exposure, the greater likelihood red blood cells will be destroyed. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, red-colored urine or looking jaundiced.

“Be sure to bank your spare change before curious pets can get their paws on it,” warned Jackson. “and if they do, get them to the emergency vet immediately.”

Goldstein, who now wears Sierra’s ashes in a heart-shaped container on a necklace, shared her dog’s story with CBS in Denver as a warning to others.

Surviving Butte: The story of The Auditor

Once upon a time in Butte, in a huge and barren expanse of waste that’s part of the nation’s largest Superfund site, there lived a dog.

Nobody knows how he got there, why he stayed, or how he managed to remain alive in the toxic confines of what’s known as the Berkeley Pit. But live he did, for 17 years — during times of active mining, during its suspension, during its limited restart, during the ongoing clean-up effort and right up until the pit transitioned into one of the country’s oddest tourist attractions.

He just showed up, back in 1986. Once miners figured out that the ghostly white image in the distance was a dog, they named him “The Auditor,” because of his tendency to appear when he was least expected.

With matted ropes of white hair covering his legs, The Auditor — a Puli — sometimes appeared to be hovering when he moved, and he seemed to want nothing to do with humans. The miners would leave him food, and build him a house, and even started sticking baby aspirin in his food when they noticed he was limping, but The Auditor was mostly unapproachable up until the end.

He died peacefully in his dog house in 2003, but The Auditor – like mining – would leave a legacy. His name would live on — in statues, in science, and as a symbol for, well, lots of things.

Appropriately enough, for a mining site in the midst of a massive EPA clean-up that will continue for generations, The Auditor had a coat like a mop.

His yellowing dreadlocks covered his eyes, too, limiting his vision – similar to the blind eye Montana once turned to the environmental havoc mining would wreak on and beneath its landscape.

But perhaps more than anything else, the mysterious white dog became a metaphor for Butte, and its ability to survive hard times — of the hardy stuff of which Montanans are made.

Butte’s still kicking — though not the way it once kicked. It’s about a third of the size it was in its heyday.  Once called the “Richest Hill on Earth” for its massive copper deposits, Butte in the early 1900s, boasted a population of 100,000.

When the mines shut down by 1982, Butte was left economically crippled and environmentally contaminated. Piles of mine waste and years of smoke from smelters contaminated the land and water around Butte with arsenic, mercury, lead and other metals.  

In the 1980s, the Berkeley Pit and Butte’s historic Uptown District were declared a Superfund site — one that extends 130 miles downstream due to tailings that settled along the Clark Fork River.

The Auditor lingers too. After the local newspaper brought him to the public’s attention in 2003, a campaign began to honor him with a series of statues, three of which now sit in various locations around town, honoring him not for any heroics, but solely for staying alive in a place where not much does.

Berkeley Pit lies just a few blocks from the center of Butte. It stretches a mile-and-a-half across and is almost 2,000 feet deep. Barren soil surrounds a lake laden with heavy metals. In 1995, a flock of migrating geese landed in the water. The next morning 342 were found dead.

How The Auditor managed to survive all that time is as mysterious as the dog himself. Maybe his rope-like locks, instead of soaking in the toxins, kept them from reaching his skin. Maybe the toxins weren’t as toxic as thought. Maybe, as dogs do, he adapted to them. The only company still in operation at the site — after mourning his loss — had The Auditor cremated.

Normally, that would slam the door shut on the mystery — but Holly Peterson already had her foot in it.

Peterson, an environmental engineer at Montana Tech in Butte, saw the article about The Auditor — 16 years old by then — in 2003. It tugged at her heartstrings as well as her scientific curiosity.

“How can that not touch you?” she said over the weekend, sitting in her office, which is decorated with photos of The Auditor. “I kept wondering, how can that thing survive? With all the contamination in Butte, I started thinking, how can we study that in a different way?”

With her students, she began getting samples of hair from dogs in Butte and the surrounding areas, and when she ran into an official from the mining company, Montana Resources, at a presentation, she asked about getting a sample from The Auditor.

The Auditor was first seen roaming the mine in 1986, the year Montana Resources started its operations. The company, due to plunging copper prices, shut down operations there in 2000, leaving only a skelton crew, but reopened in 2003.

After getting permission from the company, Peterson went to the site, where a mining company employee, wearing gloves, approached The Auditor, on his last legs by then, and snipped off a few locks of hair.

“You could tell he just wanted us to leave him alone,” Peterson said.

Tests on the sample in July of 2003 revealed “elevated levels of almost every element imaginable,” Peterson said, including 128 times the amount of arsenic in a typical dog’s hair.

Peterson’s research project would expand from there, shedding new light on the extent of environmental degradation in Butte and introducing a new, if not conclusive, way to measure it and the continuing efforts to clean it up. Her work marked the first time pet hair has been used to monitor toxins in a residential Superfund site.

Since then, the project has moved on to testing the hair of animals in Austrialia and Nairobi, and sampling the hair of animals bagged by hunters back home in Montana. Through taking samples at hunter check stations, they found far higher levels of metals in animals shot in the area around Anaconda, once home to a huge smelting operation.

The Auditor, as it turned out, inspired Peterson on several levels. She was the one behind the effort to install statues of him — created by a Texas sculptor — at several locations around town, including the one she showed me at the Butte Plaza Mall.

It’s made of bronze, with a copper patina that has worn off in spots from people petting it. Most of funding for the sculpture came from a California couple, who read of The Auditor in a Puli Club of America newsletter.

Peterson’s hope was that The Auditor — after his death on Nov. 19, 2003 —  would become a mascot for Butte, or a mascot for environmental causes, that his legacy would serve as inspiration to others, and as a reminder to not abandon pets, or abuse the planet.

What she wasn’t planning on was her own little Auditor.

Living with her 86-year-old mother, she didn’t see a dog fitting into her life.

But after publicity about The Auditor, and connecting with the Puli Club, she started getting emails when a Puli would show up at a shelter in need of rescue.

That’s how, three years ago, she ended up with Birke-Beiner.

“I couldn’t pass him up when I saw the picture of him,” Peterson said.

Birke-Beiner, who earlier in the day had gone to a Halloween Party — as a basket of yarn — came along on our trip to the mall, much of which he spent draped over Peterson’s shoulder, looking something like a Lady Gaga fashion accessory.

Peterson says some people call him Little Auditor, but Birke is his own dog — playful, people-friendly and, one gets the impression, destined to live a happy and non-toxic life, far away from a giant hole in the ground known as the Berkeley Pit.

Poisoned meat kills two dogs in Virginia

Investigators in Virginia are looking for the person who threw poison-spiked meatballs into the yards of at least three homes in Fairfax County, killing two dogs and making a third ill.

One of the fatalities in the Centreville neighborhood was a five-month-old pit bull puppy; the other, an adult West Highland terrier. The third was taken to a vet for treatment, NBC in Washington reported.

The meat was found around homes in the 15000 block of Olddale Road.

Fairfax County police haven’t figured out what was in the meat, but they are warning all residents, especially those with children and small pets, to inspect their yards for anything suspicious.

Toxic dumping turned Russian dogs green

greendogA pack of wild dogs roaming the outskirts of the Russian city of Yekaterinburg have taken on a green tinge, and authorities suspect it’s from scavenging for food in a dump that may be contaminated with chemical waste.

The greenish dogs are among a pack of about 20 strays, believed to be former guard dogs.

“I go past those dogs every day,” villager Alexei Bukharovsky told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “They are usually reddish … but then I saw, running along the white snow, an almost completely emerald dog. At first I thought someone had been playing a joke.” 

A police spokesman told the news service that illegal dumping of chemical waste is probably to blame. The spokesman said local councils had been ordered to clean up the site.

You can see more photos here.

Owners say cocaine-gulping dogs denied care

The anonymous owners of two dogs who swallowed cocaine in Florida say they may file a complaint against a West Palm Beach veterinary clinic that refused to treat their dogs because they didn’t have enough money.

The story, as aired on TV station WPBF, is one of those that raises more questions than it answers — but apparently the couple took the dogs to Palm Beach Veterinary Specialists in West Palm Beach on Thursday after the animals suffered seizures.

The couple says the clinic was treating the dogs with intravenous fluids, but kicked them out upon learning the owners didn’t have enough money for the treeatment required.

The next day, they took the dogs to Safe Harbor Animal Hospital, whose director said the first clinic violated the law by declining to treat the dogs. “By Florida state statute, as a vet you must render care to an animal that is in critical condition or in a life or death situation,” Safe Harbor Director Kay-Lynette Roca said.

A spokeswoman for the Palm Beach Veterinary Specialists denied they broke any laws and said the dogs were stable when they left their hospital. She said they even offered the pet owners discounts to make sure the dogs got the medical attention they needed. The pet owners chose to remove the animals from their facility against medical advice, she said.

The owners have not been identified, which leads me to wonder (A) if they, perchance, were the rightful owners of the cocaine the dogs gulped down, and (B) if so, they might want to set aside some of the money in their recreational drug budget for emergency veterinary care.

Marijuana brownie sends poodle on bad trip

When we pointed out the dangers of dogs eating marijuana last month, we didn’t even stop to think about the possibility of this double whammy — dogs eating marijuana brownies.

Renee Morgan says her white standard poodle Saydy did just that last week.

Saydy ate a marijuana brownie someone tossed into Morgan’s back yard in Danville, California, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Morgan returned home from work to find the two-year-old dog wasn’t “her normal, rambunctious self.” The dog had urinated on herself, couldn’t stand and was shaking.

Morgan scoured the yard looking for something Saydy might have eaten, and collected some vomit for tests at a veterinary emergency center, where Saydy was checked for bee stings and other injuries.

Morgan said that when the veterinarian realized the street Morgan lives on is near a trail, he suggested drug testing. A few hours later, as her dog was recovering overnight at the animal hospital, Morgan was called with the results — Saydy was high on marijuana.

“We would have never thought it was this,” said Morgan, who is a member of the town’s Planning Commission. “I’ve never tried marijuana in my life. We don’t even drink.”

Morgan was told by police officers that hikers sometimes get high on the trail, disposing of their drugs when they see someone coming.

Saydy — despite the toxic combo of chocolate and pot — is fine after $1,500 worth of treatment and medical tests.

Mulch law gets buried in Minnesota

Minnesota’s legislature was on the verge of passing a simple little law — requiring retailers to post signs warning consumers that cocoa mulch can be fatal to dogs — when the governor stepped in and vetoed it.

Why? Because, he said, it was an example of “legislative overreach.”

“I share the goal that we should take reasonable precautions to protect our pets,” Gov. Tim Pawlenty wrote. “However, it is unreasonable to ask all retailers to post signs at the point of purchase for such products.

“A better approach would be to require manufacturers to post warning labels on the products themselves, where necessary and appropriate. We should also supplement efforts to protect our pets by raising public awareness regarding products that are potentially harmful to them.”

The law, nicknamed ”Moose’s Law“ for a chocolate Lab who died after ingesting cocoa bean shell mulch, was authored by state Sen. Scott Dibble. It would have required businesses selling the mulch to post signs, warning that the product is potentially poisonous to pets, and advising them to contact a veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center if a pet eats it.

Moose belonged to Terry and Dawn Hall who moved to Minneapolis from Atlanta, and laid down the mulch while landscaping their yard in the summer of 2007.

“The package said it was organic,” Terry Hall says. “It was nice and dark, and we thought that would look really good.”

A couple of days later, on a boat on the St. Croix River, they threw a Frisbee into the water for Moose to retrieve. He dove in and never came up. They spotted his body floating beneath the surface of the water.

Learn more about cocoa bean shell mulch here.

Flea collars found hazardous to pets, people

Some flea collars for cats and dogs leave cancer-causing chemicals on their fur that are hazardous to the pets and their owners, the Natural Resources Defense Council says.

The council has filed a lawsuit, asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to order the removal of two chemicals — propoxur and TCVP, or tetrachlorvinphos — contained in many flea collars. Up until now, the EPA has said exposure to the chemicals in flea collars is insignificant.

The NRDC, in a report released yesterday, says the chemicals left residue high enough to pose a risk of cancer and neurological damage to children that is 1,000 times higher than the EPA’s acceptable levels.

“Just because a product is sold in stores doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Dr. Gina Solomon, a physician and a toxicologist with the environmental group and an author of the study.

(To see a full list of flea and tick control products, the chemicals they contain and the risks they pose, click here.)

The federal agency had no immediate response to to the petition, or allegations that it failed to safeguard the public and their pets from dangerous pesticides, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The lawsuit, filed in California’s Alameda County Superior Court, claims 16 retailers and manufacturers, including chain pet supply and grocery stores, failed to warn consumers that they were exposed to unsafe levels of propoxur in violation of state law.

The group conducted tests on nine dogs and five cats. The tests for TCVP were conducted on Hartz Advanced Care 3-in-1 Control Collar for Cats and Hartz Advanced Care 2-in-1 Reflecting Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs. Tests for propoxur were done on Zodiac Flea & Tick Collar for dogs and Bio Spot Flea and Tick Collar for dogs.

Pet owners calling the National Pesticide Information Center have complained that dogs and cats wearing collars containing the ingredients had stopped eating or drinking and showed symptoms including vomiting, twitching, diarrhea. There was no confirmation that the collars caused the problems.

In the tests for TCVP, after three days, 60 percent of the dogs and 40 percent of the cats had residue levels that exceed the EPA’s acceptable level for developing brains of toddlers who spend an average amount of time with a pet. For toddlers who have a lot more pet contact or have more than one pet, residue levels on 80 percent of the dogs and all of the cats would exceed the acceptable level.

In the tests for propoxur, after three days, all of the dogs had residue levels that would exceed the EPA’s acceptable level to for developing brains of toddlers spending an average amount of time with a pet.

You can read the NRDC press release here.

Read more »

And remember, chocolate is toxic to dogs

To all our friends

Both far and near

We send you loads

Of Easter cheer

A special day

To hold quite dear

It won’t be back

Until next year

By then, this get-up

Will disappear

I plan to eat

These silly ears

Virginia joins states making antifreeze safer

Virginia last week became the seventh state to require antifreeze be spiked with a bitter tasting agent that keeps pets from consuming the toxic liquid.

About 10,000 pets a year, lured by its sweet taste, are fatally poisoned by antifreeze, according to the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kirk Cox, a Republican who introduced the bill in January, after a constituent told him of two dogs on her postal route that had fallen victim to antifreeze.

Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, Tennessee, Maine and California have similar laws, according to Zootoo.com.

The law calls for all imported car engine coolants/antifreeze that have more than 10 percent ethylene glycol also contain denatonium benzoate, a notoriously bitter, but otherwise harmless chemical compound.

“For a 25-pound dog, it can take just as much as a few licks for this stuff to take effect,” said Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Oregon first passed a law to make antifreeze more unappealing nearly 15 years ago.