A community north of Toronto is warning pet owners to be vigilant after a number of dogs reportedly fell ill after eating suspicious food on the ground at Memorial Park in King City.
Officials from King Township say city staff were informed that a woman was observed dropping a trail of food, which included nuts, raisins and breadcrumbs, along her walk last week.
“We have had information about possible suspects. Those people have been identified and our officers are continuing their investigation. We haven’t laid any charges at this point,” Const. Laura Nicolle said.
Several residents reported that their dogs became ill after eating unknown food in the park. There were also unconfirmed reports of dead wildlife in the area.
“We did receive information that there was a wild fox that had been located and was deceased. That animal has been sent for an examination as well to see if it’s connected to this,” Nicolle said.
Officials said the fox was brought to the Toronto Wildlife Centre for care but did not make it.
“We were told over the phone he was convulsing and when we responded and got him he was dying and he did not survive. We find that quite suspicious,” Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, told Global News.
“The thing about poisoning is that there’s so many different types of poisons out there and there’s so many different ways that the symptoms can present. It’s also extremely difficult to test if an animal has been poisoned unless you know what the poison you’re testing for.”
Community officials said they will be placing warning signs at Memorial Park advising people of the issue.
“Our most important priority is keeping animals safe,” Chris Fasciano, director of parks, recreation and culture at King Township, said in a media release.
“We’re advising people to keep their dogs on a leash and don’t let them walk alone outside of their view. It only takes a second for a dog to eat something on the ground.”
According to a local bylaw, dogs must be leashed at all times and not be allowed to run freely.
Officials said they are working with York Regional Police to investigate the suspicious incidents. The food has also been sent to a laboratory for testing.
“There has been a quantity of food items that were seized that have been sent for examination and we are awaiting those results to see if they were laced with anything,” Nicolle said.
Anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area is urged to contact police at 1-866-876-5423.
— With a file from Matt Bingley and Nick Westoll