Posted at: 09/26/2013 9:21 PM
| Updated at: 09/26/2013 9:54 PM
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY -- The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is investigating a woman's discovery of rat poison near Washington Park.
Liz Hayden told NewsChannel 13 she caught her dog, Louis, eating tiny green pellets out of a d-CON tray on Willett St. between Lancaster St. and State St. on Monday. The tray was nestled amid plants at the base of a tree.
"It's incredibly, incredibly dangerous," Hayden, a student at the Albany College of Pharmacy, said Thursday. "I'm just lucky enough that I saw what he was eating and took the preventative measures to make sure that he is not sick."
On the advice of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, Hayden rushed the young Beagle Mix to a veterinarian. Dr. Alyce Meyer, chief of staff at the Parkside Veterinary Hospital on Morton Ave., prescribed a Vitamin K regimen to counteract the poison.
Louis is expected to make a full recovery, but other pets have not been as fortunate.
"I've seen pets over the years (whose owners) didn't realize their pet had ingested it, and many, many days later came in with massive bleeding," Meyer said. "They will succumb typically if they're that bad."
Since the poison contains a high dose of the blood-thinning drug Warfarin, affected pets -- and humans -- may urinate or vomit blood, Meyer said. Other symptoms include bruising, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
Immediate medical attention is required. Activated charcoal or hydrogen peroxide may be given to induce vomiting.
Acting on a tip from NewsChannel 13, DEC assigned environmental conservation officers to investigate the origin of the rat poison that sickened Hayden's dog.
It is against the law to place rat poison in areas accessible to children and pets, DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson said. A tamper-resistant bait container must be used.
"The penalty for the misuse of a pesticide that results in known human or animal exposure could range anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the specific circumstances of a case," Georgeson said.
It was unclear whether a resident was using the poison to kill mice, rats, squirrels, or other animals. Several people in the Washington Park neighborhood told NewsChannel 13 they had no knowledge of the poison.
Managers at two area pest control services, Catseye and Northeast Pest Control, said their expert exterminators would never place a tray of poison in a public area.
"No reputable pest control service would ever do that," Catseye's Luis Pabon said.
D-CON FIGHTING EPA
Citing the risk to children, pets, and wildlife, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011 banned certain rodent poisons that are not tamper-resistant, but the maker of d-CON refused to comply, EPA reported.
Reckitt Benckiser Inc. consequently lost its federal authorization to sell a dozen products -- including the d-CON Ready Mixed Baitbits that sickened Hayden's dog -- but they are still on store shelves because the company requested a hearing.
"EPA is initiating regulatory action to cancel and remove from the consumer market 12 d-CON brand mouse and rat poison bait products," according to a statement on the EPA website. "The manufacturer of these products has refused to voluntarily adopt risk mitigation measures that are necessary to protect children, pets, and wildlife.
An EPA spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hal Ambuter, director of regulatory and government affairs for d-CON products, was quoted in March as saying the ban would force consumers to use an even more dangerous class of rodenticides.
"Products containing a powerful neurotoxin without a known antidote... ironically could put the public health and environment at greater risk," Ambuter told the McClatchy Newspapers.
Meyer, the Albany veterinarian, confirmed the neurotoxin-based poisons cause seizures and eventual cell death, and that they have no antidote. She said she does not endorse the use of any poison in areas accessible to children or pets.
"I certainly wouldn't approve of it being used outdoors, and certainly not in a public area," Meyer said.
SIGN OF TROUBLE
Days before contacting NewsChannel 13 and consenting to the DEC investigation, the woman whose dog ate the poison in Albany had taken her own action.
Hayden said she removed the tray full of poison immediately after finding it near the base of a tree. Then, after taking Louis for emergency treatment, she returned to post a homemade warning sign to the tree trunk.
"I know this area is full of dogs so I wanted other dog walkers to know to avoid this tree," Hayden said. "If I can help one other dog avoid having to go to the vet and have this done to them, then it's worth it."
The young pharmacy student, who is contemplating a career as a veterinary pharmacist, said people should closely watch their pets during walks. To the person responsible for placing the poison, she had a terse message.
"Please stop," Hayden said. "Please research this product, realize how dangerous it is to all animals -- not just the intended animals -- (and) to humans, as well."
Hayden said she hopes no animals ingested the poison before she removed it. Ominously, she found an empty d-CON tray next to the filled one.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center : http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
EPA cancels d-CON products: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/mice-and-rats/cancellation-process.html#canceled_prod