At least one dog in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood has been rushed to a vet after eating a potentially poisoned meatball, officials reported today.
Timber, a 9-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever and border collie, was walking near Crestline Drive Monday when she nosed under a bush and discovered what looked like sausage or hamburger, her owner Tom Doerr said today.
Doerr had seen articles about the discovery of potentially poisoned meatballs in his neighborhood and the Richmond District this weekend and remembered similar incidents in July that caused the death of one dog. He immediately suspected that Timber had found another one of the dangerously tempting treats.
The story ended more happily for Doerr and Timber, however, than it did for the dog that died, a dachshund named Oskar.
Doerr grabbed Timber and the remains of the meatball and rushed her to the veterinarian, where they were able to get her to throw up the rest of the meat. After monitoring, she showed no signs of poisoning with strychnine, the poison found in the meatballs in July, Doerr said.
While the incident won’t stop him from walking in the open space on the edge of Twin Peaks, Doerr said it will definitely make him more cautious. He noted that Timber is recovering from recent surgery on a ligament and he had been focused on her leg when she found the meatball rather than on other potential hazards.
“I’m going to have to keep her from putting her nose in places and be 100 percent diligent,” Doerr said. “I really can’t afford not to be anymore.”
Doerr said the person putting the meatballs out probably had an “evil streak” and a grudge against dogs.
“God forbid a 2-year-old picks one up on the street or in the park,” Doerr said of the meatballs.
“They need to be caught,” he said of the unknown suspect. “I can’t even imagine why anyone would do this.”
Animal Care and Control officials responded Saturday to the area where Timber and Doerr found the meatball to search for others.
San Francisco police say they have submitted meatballs found in the city this week for testing but have not yet confirmed that they contain poison like the ones distributed in the Twin Peaks area in July. The poisoned meatballs in July were thought to have been deliberately distributed in areas where dogs would find them.
One additional report of meatballs, made this morning in Nob Hill and Clay and Larkin streets, turned out to be unfounded when the meatballs were determined to be made of clay, according to Sgt. Danielle Newman.
Pet owners are being advised to stay alert when taking their pets out and keep them on a leash.
Police advised in July that residents who find a meatball should call 911 and only handle them if absolutely necessary and with heavy gloves, since strychnine can be absorbed through the skin.
San Francisco Animal Care and Control officials have said that if an animal is thought to have eaten one of the meatballs it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. San Francisco Veterinary Services, Pets Unlimited and All Pets offer 24-hour vet service.
Newman said there have been no suspect sightings or descriptions in the case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the SFPD’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.
Sara Gaiser, Bay City News