The RSPCA and the Shire of Northam have told dog owners to be vigilant following a number of reports of suspected dog baitings within the town.
A post on the Northam Community Board Facebook page of residents sharing their recent experiences with their dogs being poisoned has sparked the RSPCA to give out a warning.
A spokesperson from the animal welfare organisation said they had only received one formal report of baiting within the town of Northam, although members of the Facebook group said they were aware of 15 instances in recent weeks.
Dog owner Khesahn Bailey’s nine-year-old American staffy Jack was baited with snail pellets on Saturday, December 29 at her house on Newcastle Road.
“I’d been at a friends house and came home to let Jack out to go to the toilet,” she said.
“I did some house work and went to let him back in and when I opened up the front door there he was laying surrounded by green vomit.
“I was in shock, I didn’t know what had happened. I yelled for my sons to carry him inside. He wasn't able to get up.”
Ms Bailey said she did not see or hear anyone around her property before the incident.
“After we got home from the vets my sons and I searched the yard to find a box of snail pellets ripped open, not chewed by the dogs. I stayed awake for the whole night. I was too worried about Jack. Jack wouldn’t hurt anyone. The kids love him to bits.”
Ms Bailey said Jack was placed on a drip and given charcoal to clean out his system until he was released two days later.
She said she has since reported the matter to the RSPCA. It is an offence, under section 19(1) of the Animal Welfare Act (2002), to intentionally or recklessly poison an animal.
“The vet had said that other dogs had been brought in with suspicious poisoning,” Ms Bailey said.
“My advice to other pet owners is to check your yards regularly, at least every night or morning because it seems to happen of a night time and always have a 24/7 vets number handy near you it would save you precious time.
“I’d like to thank Amber at the Heartland Veterinary Hospital in York for saving Jack. She was fantastic.”
Ms Bailey said through her experience with Jack’s sickness she has become aware of two deaths of dogs due to suspected baiting since the beginning of 2019.
Those found guilty face maximum penalties of a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
The Shire of Northam acting chief executive officer Clinton Kleynhans said the Shire received one call a few weeks ago regarding the baiting of dogs.
He said given the activity is a criminal offence and also ‘severely cruel’, the Shire would urge anyone with information to contact the police and RSPCA.
Last year, RSPCA WA received 87 reports of suspected deliberate poisonings.
RSPCA WA interim chief executive officer Ben Cave said poisoning inflicts severe suffering on the animal and is heartbreaking for the family involved.
“There’s simply no excuse for it,” he said.
“Even if the animal is the cause of a dispute between neighbours, it’s not to blame and should not be punished, especially in such a vicious way.
“Suspected pet poisoning reports often come about because a person is annoyed by barking dogs in the neighbourhood, or cats roaming onto their properties.
“If your neighbour’s pet is bothering you, be mature and speak to them – never take matters into your own hands.
“Owners may not know there is an issue if they have not been approached before.
“Pet owners shouldn’t have to worry about their beloved animal being targeted in their own backyard; but tragically deliberate poisonings do occur, so pet owners need to do what they can to reduce the risk.
“This is especially important if incidents have been reported in their area.
“Pet owners need to be aware of any neighbourly concerns regarding their pet, and take action to improve their pet’s behaviour if it is causing a genuine problem.”
Suspected deliberate pet poisonings should be reported to RSPCA via the Cruelty Hotline on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 3589).