Family heartbroken after pet dies in suspected poisoning incident in Ahoghill
A young family has been left devastated after having to say goodbye to their much-loved pet following a suspected poisoning incident that occurred in the Ahoghill area.
Poppy, a beautiful golden Labrador dog, described by heartbroken mum Gemma Houston as a "dog of a lifetime", became suddenly unwell last Monday, 10 April, and sadly died a short time later in what is now suspected of being a poisoning incident.
"After spending the day last Monday explaining to our wee boys aged five and four-years-old that they had to say goodbye to their best friend and watching our girl go through a terrible end, we began searching for anything she could have got into at home that could explain this.
"Nothing could be found and we couldn’t understand what could have happened. The tears in our house this week have not stopped."
Heartbreaking: Jonah and Theo saying 'goodbye' to Poppy.
But on Sunday (16 April), after sharing a social media post, the family discovered that someone has been leaving what appears to be poisoned bait along the roadside and in a field entry of Carmagrim Lane, a quiet country lane, between Ahoghill and Portglenone, popular with local dog walkers.
"Where this bait was placed is very easily accessible to any dog being walked along the road.
"We often walked Poppy off the lead in the evenings and she would hang back behind us at times sniffing around the hedgerow, so it would have been very easy for us to miss her getting in to something like this. After looking at what was left we have no doubt it is what Poppy ate as she was vomiting the same meat on the morning she died."
A container with the suspected contaminated ‘meat’
Gemma along with husband Peter have since combed the area and removed any bait they could find in the hope that no other family would have to go through the tragedy that they have personally experienced over the last week.
"We have now removed what bait we could find but it’s likely that more is being placed out regularly so please, please, if you are walking your dog in this area be vigilant," warned Gemma. "We have no idea if this was placed purposely to harm pets or as a deterrent to wildlife."
Another one of the family's pets, a cat named 'Yoda', has also been missing since the beginning of last week. The family are suspecting and fearing the worst after the death of Poppy.
"The thought of her suffering the same fate as Poppy, somewhere alone without the mercy of medication or euthanasia is hard to even think about."
MISSING: Yoda the cat.
Gemma also appealed directly to the person suspected of being responsible:
"If you know of or are the person placing uncovered poison out, please consider what you have done and could do to people's beloved family pets.
"I understand that sheep and lambs need to be protected from predators but what we watched our dog go through was beyond inhumane and to do that to any wild animal is horrific let alone to someone’s pets. Small children also walk this road regularly".
The family have been in contact with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's officer responsible for animal welfare.
A council spokesperson told Love Ballymena:
“Council’s Animal Welfare Service is currently working with the owner of this family pet to establish if any offences have been committed under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.”
Jonah and Theo with much-loved Poppy.
"This has taken a huge toll on our family - a vet bill is the least of the impact it has had on us. There is nothing that can repair what has been done to our pets through this carelessness but we just want to avoid it happening to anyone else by raising awareness.
"All we want is for this not to happen to anymore animals".