Dog owner’s harrowing warning after pooch dies
A Sydney dog owner has been left heartbroken and has warned others to take extra care around one of the city's busiest public parks.
Like any other week Maria Stretton and her husband were taking turns exercising their beagle-staffordshire bull terrier cross Baxter at Centennial Park when, unbeknown to them, he ate a piece of fox bait.
She said their six-year-old pooch started to show signs of illness on Thursday that were initially thought to be a liver malfunction because he wasn't showing symptoms consistent with poisoning.
But while on the way to the vet on Saturday, Baxter had a heart attack.
"He was not able to make it," Ms Stretton told NCA NewsWire.
"The autopsy revealed (his cause of death) was fox bait.
"We didn't know there was fox poisoning out there … if (we did) he should have stayed on the leash all the time."
Now she is warning other dog owners to remain vigilant.
"Just letting you know to be careful when taking your dog walking to Centennial Park as there's fox bait around," she said in a post to a neighbourhood app.
"Unfortunately Baxter passed away on Saturday night (after being poisoned).
"Sorry to be a downer today, but I think it's important people know."
A series of comments from concerned neighbours followed and the post was shared across several social media platforms alerting dog owners in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
"It's horrible to hear this has happened and that someone has done it on purpose," one local wrote.
Another community member named Leiah thanked Ms Stretton for alerting people to the potential danger.
"So very sorry to hear of your loss under such awful circumstances," she said.
"Thank you for taking the time during your grief to alert others."
Another said: "I'm very sorry for your heartbreaking loss. Thank you for this important warning."
She later noted park rangers did not lay any fox bait, which was reportedly found scattered in various parts of the park.
City of Sydney Council referred the matter to Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, which has been contacted for comment.
According to its website, fox baits are not used at Centennial Parklands.
"We have a fox control program led by a licensed feral pest management specialist that includes den fumigation and soft-jaw leg hold traps," the website states.
"We do not undertake any fox control work where members of the public or dogs could be affected, the program is targeted to fenced-off bushland remnant areas and depot.
"There is no dog access to these areas."
Locals are now concerned a member of the public is responsible for the act.
NSW Police said the force encouraged owners to report these types of incidents to police so they could investigate.
According to the RSPCA, an antidote to fox bait should be given to a dog within 45 minutes of ingesting the poisonous substance if it is to have a chance of survival.
"Affected animals first become tired, then lose co-ordination and lie down," the RSPCA said, suggesting dogs would often die within two hours without treatment.
Originally published as Sydney dog owner's harrowing warning