Dog owners warned after rat bait attack in Clare

A discovery of bait-laced sandwiches thrown over a fence of a home in Clare has prompted warnings for animal owners to be vigilant and on the look-out for repeat incidents and any symptoms of poisoning in their pets.

Clare Valley Veterinary Services alerted locals last week to reports from a client that two sandwiches, buttered and sprinkled with either rat or snail bait had been thrown over their fence and fortunately found before their two golden retriever dogs had eaten them.

One sandwich was fresh, the other appeared to have been in the yard for a longer period of time.

Veterinarian Dr Louise Lehmann said it was a potentially fatal act, and of particular concern given the couple had a toddler visit their home that day and regularly in the lead up to the discovery.

The Clare couple wanted to remain anonymous, but Clare Valley Veterinarian Services had alerted others in the community on their behalf.

Dr Lehmann said the couple was bewildered and angered by the act, saying they had no indication of any issues with their dogs and had not received any complaints of noise or barking.

She said symptoms of rat bait poisoning may include lethargy and generally being out of sorts and may take several days to show up.

Snail bait poisoning was more instant and potentially more fatal.

“It is potentially fatal if an animal ingests bait,” Dr Lehmann said.

“The thing with rat bait is that it’s a bit of a silent killer. If an animal has eaten it, you may not know or realise for several days because they bleed internally, they can’t clot blood and the first sign you might see is them becoming lethargic.

“One really important thing for pet owners to know is that all rat and mice poisons are dangerous even though some are promoted as being safer, non-palatable, but that is nonsense because where rats and mice are attracted to them, so are dogs and cats.

“People need to be vigilant, if a pet is showing any signs of being unwell or lethargic, bring them in to a vet.

“If someone is doing this maliciously, pet owners are not likely to know their pet has taken a bait so I’d just encourage them to keep a close eye on their animals.”

Dr Lehmann said there was traditionally a higher incidence of non-intentional poisoning from baits in the autumn time – affecting not only domestic pets, but also owls and other wildlife that may eat affected vermin – and encouraged people to use traps rather than bait.

“The second-generation wax bait blocks take just 10 grams to kill a 20-kilogram kelpie,” she said.

“If you put bait out, you just have to assume your pet might take them.”

Dr Lehmann said Clare police had been alerted to the incident and were now following up on the report.

In South Australia, ill treatment of animals causing serious harm to, or the death of an animal, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $50,000 or a term of up to four years imprisonment.