Dogs die and woman treated for poisoning

AN INVESTIGATION is underway in a Suffolk village after two dogs died and a young mother was rushed to hospital with suspected pesticide poisoning.

Laurence Cawley

AN INVESTIGATION is underway in a Suffolk village after two dogs died and a young mother was rushed to hospital with suspected pesticide poisoning.

Residents in Botesdale, near Bury St Edmunds, have been left shocked by the incidents which are now subject of a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Natural England.

The first incident involved a nine-year-old border collie called Cassie who died after developing breathing difficulties and coughing up blood.

The second, which happened just a few days later, involved another nine-year-old dog called Zac, who died 30 minutes after arriving at a nearby veterinary practice. Her owner, a young woman who did not want to be identified, was taken to West Suffolk Hospital with throat pain and told by doctors her condition could have been far worse.

Last night, Andrew Smith, spokesman for Natural England, said: “We have received notification of two suspected pesticide poisoning incidents - one in relation to a dog, the other a dog and a person.

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“Natural England wildlife management advisers are currently working with the HSE on the incident. The suspected animal poisonings will be investigated by Natural England with the suspected poisoning of a person being investigated by the HSE.

“Should pesticides be implicated the Pesticide Safety Directorate would then look take forward any necessary actions in liaison with HSE.

“Dogs should ideally be kept on a lead and under close control to try and prevent them eating or putting anything in their mouths while being walked.

“If owners become concerned about their pets they should contact their vet as soon as possible and follow their advice. If pesticide poisoning is suspected they should then contact the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme.”

The owners of Cassie, Sally and Dennis Else, yesterday urged other dog owners to be wary of where they walk their pets because both animals died after following a similar walking route in the village.

Mrs Else said: “She went out on a walk and when we got her back we offered her a treat. She usually loves her treat but on this occasion she did not want it. She was struggling with her breathing. The next morning she was still bad and she could hardly walk. We got her to the vets and they said to leave her there for blood tests and an x-ray.

“By dinner time the vet said Cassie wasn't going to make it.”

Mrs Else, who knows the young woman affected by the second incident, said Zac died suffering exactly the same symptoms as Cassie.

“He collapsed in a field during a walk and within half an hour of arriving at the vets he had died. His owner had a sore throat and went to hospital where she was told she had a mild form of insecticide poisoning.”

A spokeswoman for the HSE would only confirm it was investigating the matter.

Eric Hathaway, vice chairman of Botesdale Parish Council, said he was shocked to hear that two dogs had died and a person made ill as a result of suspected poisoning in the village.