Poison cases rise at CLAW

CLAW Veterinary Nurse Angela Voyiatzakis provides comfort to a poisoned patient.This blog was written by Community Led Animal Welfare veterinarian Marike Calitz. --CP

As the coldest days and nights of winter set in at Highveld, South Africa, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) program expects an uptick in the number of poisoning cases that enter the clinic.

Freezing temperatures on the highlands of South Africa’s Gauteng Province lead to an increase in rat infestations in homes and buildings. As a result, communities turn to poison as a way of managing rodent populations.

The most common poison used is an organo-phosphate. Easily available and cheap to buy from street stalls in any township, the poison comes decanted into small sachets in a variety of bright colours, looking like a sherbet sweet or candy.

Unfortunately township dogs have become the unwitting victims of this deadly granular powder. When food is short, dogs scavenge and frequently become poisoned. In the past six months, CLAW has seen poisonings rise from 13 dogs in January to 22 dogs in June.

Although the number of dogs unknowingly consuming rat poison has increased, the clinic’s success rates in treating poisoned victims range from 50 to 80 percent. For CLAW, to save a dog from a painful, cruel death, the most important factor is early intervention and treatment. Throughout the year, but mainly during the months when temperatures drop below freezing, CLAW staff members educate local communities to look out for the warning signs of poisoning and to get their affected pets to a vet as quickly as possible.

-- MC

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