Dog owners on Vancouver’s west side are being warned to keep their furry friends on a short leash, after several reports of pups eating PCP at Kits Beach.
The Burrard Animal Hospital has confirmed at least two cases of canines being brought in for treatment after eating the hallucinogen which is sometimes called angel dust.
Social media posts indicate at least one more dog may have eaten the drugs.
Jean-Francois Houde was walking his two dogs Charlie and Loretta at the beach at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night when the incident happened.
He said he lets the dogs off leash to run because the beach is usually empty at night — and sometimes they end up eating things where he can’t see.
But it wasn’t until he arrived home an hour and a half later that he noticed something wrong with Loretta.
“My little female just didn’t want to wake up,” he said. “She just couldn’t stand up, or walk, or anything.”
Houde rushed the dog to an animal ER, where veterinarians tested her blood, kidneys and liver. The blood test came back positive for drugs.
“She had a huge amount of PCP in her system, which was really weird because I couldn’t figure out where it could happen until later on, at the same ER, there’s another dog that came with the exact same symptoms,” he said.
It was after talking to this second owner that the pair realized they’d both been at Kits Beach around the same time.
“At first I was really surprised, because I’m always looking out when we go downtown for needles and stuff. But Kits Beach is always a bit more relaxed,” Houde said.
Loretta was treated by vets and sent home with a charcoal treatment to soak up the drugs, and while she was breathing a little better the next morning, she still wasn’t moving, Houde said.
He took her back to the clinic the next day, where she spent about 12 hours on an IV drip, he said.
Burrard Animal Hospital veterinary technician Amanda Gawor said it’s not unusual for dogs to come in after eating something that made them sick, but she was surprised to see the PCP cases.
“It is only recently now that we’ve had a couple patients that we believe we were treating for PCP ingestion,” she said.
“Believe it or not most of our toxicities throughout the week are actually THC or marijuana toxicities,” along with things like chocolate and grapes, she added.
While she described the incidents as “a head scratcher,” she said the clinic is now warning pet owners to be extra vigilant about how their animals are acting.
“So any behavioral changes that seem out of the ordinary, we’re making sure that they come in right away so that we can determine what is going on.”
Owners should be on the lookout for hypertension, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, disorientation and even hyper salivation, she said.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) said it has not had any reports of incidents at Kits Beach. CKNW has also reached out to the BC SPCA.
As for Loretta, Houde said she showed signs of returning to normal after her second trip to the vet.,
“She seems to be good, she’s playful, better appetite and everything,” he said.
But nevertheless, the incident has now left him nervous about walking his dogs — and he said they’ll stay strictly on leash.
“It’s like rat poison. If someone spread it on the grass, you don’t know.”