Chemical Warfare…….and Pets

It was a beautiful day and my surgically repaired thumb was cooperating to the extent that Sharon and I spontaneously decided to hitch up our RV and head to the nearest campground for a night or two of on the job training in de-winterization and systems management.  We keep our RV at a facility north of town that is well managed, immaculately clean, and provides a covered pad for our unit.  As is our custom, we turned Tazzy out to look around and enjoy the safety of a fully enclosed area to stretch his legs before our hundred mile trip.  We came very close to turning Taz out to a slow and excruciating death……

I suppose I should alert the readers to the station in life that we accord our pets.  Tazzy is a 96 pound, yellow Lab, who is the acknowledged CEO in our household.  There was a time when I was emphatic, dogs stayed outside in a warm, insulated doghouse, and existed for my occasional entertainment with a game of fetch or a walk around the neighborhood.  My thinking, I suspect, was tempered by the pointers and beagles that I have been privileged to own over the years who were not particularly suited to the leather sofa….   In a 180 degree reversal, a big black Lab with the moniker Abraham then established residency in our home, a welcome and entertaining addition to the family……I drew another line in the sand, he enjoyed a comfy bed by the master bed, on the floor.  Finally, this big yellow master manipulator, Taz’m, his proper name, obliterated that line and enjoys the foot of our bed.  If we crowd him he unceremoniously kicks the offending leg out of his way, stretches out and snores unmercifully.  Our hardwood floors are slick, so we provide a special throw rug for Taz to sit on, at table side, while we eat…which of course keeps him close enough to enjoy a taste of whatever red meat we are sharing at the moment.  I am sure, by now, you get the picture.  Taz is a family member, accorded every privilege that a child would enjoy.  I make no apologies.

We hadn’t been at the facility very long when Taz sauntered over munching on something.  This boy is a canine vacuum cleaner and can scoop up a morsel of something truly disgusting in a millisecond.  His latest find was green and tasty.  Sharon, suspecting he had picked up a wad of discarded chewing gum gum, extricated the substance from his mouth and showed it to me.  I knew immediately what it was.  A quick examination of the substance confirmed my horror……Taz was eating D-Con, the premier rat poison.  I hurried over to where he came from and found the remnants of a block of D-Con, turned and immediately loaded Taz up for a trip to a vet, any vet at this point, as we were in deep trouble.  As providence would have it, a country veterinarian’s office was just across from the storage facility, and we were there within minutes.  The doctor, Melissa Smith, was no stranger to this emergency and whisked Taz into her clinic where he enjoyed a hydrogen peroxide and water cocktail, eliciting violent vomiting.  The sound of his wretching, under these circumstances, was music to my ears.  He gagged up several large chunks of D-Con, prompting the vet to acknowledge that had he digested this quantity, we would have endured an unthinkable tragedy.  Other than the effects of the hydrogen peroxide and wretching, Tazzy is fine, currently enjoying a 10 day regimen of vitamin K, a clotting agent, a precaution to offset any of the D-Con that might have gotten into his system.  We might never had known what happened to Taz, had Sharon not noticed his chewing happily on the pleasant tasting, cubed hell that he found in the storage area.  Why someone would place this stuff out, in a public area, where mice and rats have free reign from the surrounding woods, is beyond me.  Maybe I will have the opportunity to visit with them about their indiscretion……..

Today’s D-Con is not your father’s D-Con, which was comprised of Warfarin, in and itself bad enough.  This chemical causes a breakdown of the clotting mechanism, and the hapless critter simply bleeds to death.  They bleed through their nose, gums and lungs and die of suffocation and blood loss.  Today’s D-con also incorporates a chemical, brodifacoum, which intensifies the deadly mechanism and insures a quicker but still horrifying death.  The EPA has moved to ban 12 varieties of D-Con as it constitutes an unreasonable threat to pets and children.  Some of these varieties also contain a neurotoxin, for which there is no known antidote.  These chemicals also cause a break down of the capillaries within the circulatory system.  This poison is carefully prepared in a tasty mix so as to fool mice and rats into thinking they had stumbled onto a feast of epic proportions.  Dogs and cats love the stuff.

Our experience, potentially devastating, is a learning opportunity for folks who read this and love their pets.  Please carefully supervise your pets when you are out and about.  A surprising number of people will never enjoy the relationship that folks like us enjoy with the Tazm’s of the world, and we can be subjected to a terrible consequence when we drop our guard.  The capacity to love and care for a critter is a God given privilege……and tremendous responsibility.

I have never condoned the use of poisoned baits to control vermin, it puts tragedy on your doorstep.  The EPA got this one right……

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