A BRISBANE bayside vet is warning pet owners to be vigilant after at least four pets had died after being baited in the area in the past month.
Dr Kat Lovell of the Redlands Vet Clinic said a cat owned by a Victoria Point family died this week after being treated at an emergency clinic for 16 hours for snail bait poisoning.
Their neighbour's dog also died.
Dr Lovell said the rescue cat was adopted from the clinic a year and a half ago as a kitten, and was one of its regular clients.
"The cat was the love of their life. It's so sad," she said.
"They found the cat within 40 minutes. He had his dinner and went upstairs, where they found him convulsing.
"Apparently their neighbour's dog, I think it was a labrador, had also been poisoned and died.
"They are not sure if the cat ate one of the balls of mince that had the poison in it for the dog, or if it was a deliberate thing for the cat."
In July, a four-year-old golden retriever and a maltese terrier had vomited up bright blue granules and died in separate alleged snail baiting attacks at Victoria Point.
Reports had also been received from Cleveland.
Dr Lovell said snail bait causes a rapid onset of symptoms, including diarrhoea and blue vomit, and can be rapidly fatal without immediate, intensive treatment.
Signs of poisoning include vomiting, tremors, seizures, dilating pupils, frothing at the mouth and the animal collapsing.
She said in July the Redlands Vet Clinic staff had had treated two cattle dogs from the same family that had been given snail bait hidden in meat and thrown into their yard.
The cattle dogs were the only two the vet personally knew of to survive, as they made it to the clinic within 15 minutes of eating the poisoned meat.
"We worked on those cattle dogs for 11 hours straight before they were stable, and then they still had intermittent seizures for another 24 hours," she said.
"But we have heard of dead pets that never made it to treatment."
It was unclear how many recently deceased dogs and cats were victims of snail bait poisoning, as most owners did not think to bring in a dog or cat for a post mortem following the shock of finding their pet unexpectedly dead.
Dr Lovell warned residents to be vigilant.
"This is the thing, they are being found dead so some of the owners just thought they were hit by cars," she said.
"The problem with snail bait is I don't think most pets make it to the vet as it's so rapid by the time they have vomited up bright blue granules.
"The biggest message is to be aware if any of your neighbourhood pets are being targeted, like if you have issues with barking in the area.
"If you see anything that even makes you slightly suspicious, time is of the essence. Get in the car, even in your pyjamas, and go as even half an hour makes a difference."
RSPCA Bayside Metro Inspector Sam Beavon said he was aware of at least of two dogs and a cat that died from possible baiting.
He said one Victoria Point resident had also received an allegedly threatening letter, stating if the person's dogs did not stop barking, they would be baited.
It was the second known letter, with Dr Lovell having received a similar letter about her own dogs in July.
Insp Beavon said the letters were handed to police.
He said samples of blue granules found in vomit on the property of a poisoned dog and cat had been sent away for testing to determine the exact type of poison ingested by the family pets.
Although it is assumed to be snail bait or a similar supermarket-bought household pesticide, the inspector said once it was scientifically confirmed veterinarians would be informed and the substance would also then be able to be entered as evidence in court for any future prosecutions.
"The RSPCA investigates all complaints regarding baiting and if caught the penalty for a deliberate act of cruelty carries a maximum of three years' imprisonment or a $220,000 fine," he said.
"In addition, the Animal Care and Protection Act states it is an offence to lay baits or harmful substances, which carries a maximum of one year imprisonment or a $33,000 fine.
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