14 Stock Dogs in SW Idaho Poisoned with Strychnine

Judn 10, 2016

Fourteen stock and guard dogs have been poisoned with strychnine in southwestern Idaho since early April and 12 have died.

"We lost another dog today. The poisoning is still going on," the dogs' owner, Casey Echevarria, told Capital Press on May 30.

At the Snake River Veterinary Center, the concern is not with criminal charges but with putting an end to the suffering of any more innocent animals.

Brent Varriale, DVM, the veterinarian who examined the dogs, said they had large amounts of green dyed grain in their stomachs, which is consistent with gopher bait that contains strychnine. The strychnine bait was mixed with raw ground meat to encourage the dogs to eat as much as they did and the large amount of bait found in the dogs' stomachs, coupled with the large number of dogs affected, convinced Varriale they were intentionally poisoned.

The Canyon County Sheriff's Office confirmed that it is investigating this case. Under Idaho State Law, it is a felony to intentionally poison an agriculture animal worth more than $1,000. Working dogs like the ones killed range in value from $1,500 to $3,000.

Strychnine is a restricted use pesticide and requires a license from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture before using it in bait, said George Robinson, administrator of Idaho State Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Resources Division. To obtain the license, a person needs to pass an exam. There are about 3,000 licenses statewide.

The poisonings have drawn the attention of Idaho branch of the Humane Society of the United States. An award of $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the responsible party.