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Spate of Unsolved Pet Poisonings Rattles D2 Residents

Last Tuesday, Fernando Ruizbo, a Colombian expat who lives in Thao Dien, wrote a post on Facebook that sent chills through pet owners in Saigon.

The emotional post, which has since been shared over 1,300 times, explained that Ruizbo's dog, a young yellow lab named Sophie, was poisoned at his home on Street 4, also called Lang Bao Chi. Though she was rushed to the nearby Saigon Pet Clinic, Sophie could not be revived. The update has also garnered nearly 1,000 comments at the time of writing, some from from both locals and expats who have experienced similar tragedies.

The next day A.R.C. Vietnam (Animal Rescue & Care) posted that 10 dogs and one cat had died from poisoning on Streets 1-5, located just past the An Phu Villa compound in Thao Dien. They also shared a picture of what the poisoned items may look like.

 This news shocked Alexis Walker, who lives elsewhere in Thao Dien and has two dogs and a cat. "When I first heard about the poisonings I was deeply saddened and scared for the well-being of my own pets," she tells Saigoneer.

"The news has absolutely impacted my daily routine," she adds. "I normally walk my dogs on the streets where the poisonings are taking place." Walker had even taken her dogs down the same street Ruizbo lives on the night before his distraught Facebook post went online.

"Since finding out about the poisonings I haven't walked my dogs," she says. "I haven't even let them in the front yard for fear of being targeted."

Sammy Eastwood, another pet owner in the area who works near the streets in question, expressed similar sentiments. "I was too scared to bring my dog to the office for the first few days after the incident in fear that it would happen again," she says. "Now each morning I am checking the perimeter of my outdoor area to check for poison."

Dr. Nguyen Van Nghia, the head veterinarian at Saigon Pet Clinic, shared that the string of poisonings has driven him crazy. In addition to the 11 pets he knows of that died last week, two other dogs were poisoned but survived after quickly being given fluids at the clinic. He also mentioned the fact that poison packets could be picked up by children and cause severe harm.

"I've been in Thao Dien since 2010 and we've rescued a lot of pets, but this has never happened until now. It's so sad," he shares. "At first I thought someone was killing them to rob the houses, but the police looked at security camera footage and said no one from outside the neighborhood had done it."

The area, which features very narrow streets and dense housing, is home to dozens of dogs, and Dr. Nghia explains that this has caused tension over the last month.

"There have been arguments recently because owners didn't clean up their dog's poop, or because dogs were too noisy since they weren't being walked," he says. "Many families there have dogs, but they hate each other, and some have even been throwing stones at houses for the last three weeks."

He also offered advice for pet owners in the area. "This is the fault of humans, not the pets. People need to clean up after their dogs and give them plenty of exercise, in addition to getting them spayed or neutered so they don't bark as much," he says. "Feed big dogs before they go for a walk so that they don't eat things off of the ground."

If an owner thinks their pet has been poisoned, they need to act fast. "You need to make them vomit quickly by putting peroxide in their mouth," he says. "Call the vet or bring them in quickly and be aware of how they are acting."

Ruizbo, whose Facebook post first alerted the public to this problem, is working to turn the tragedy into a learning experience. He has organized a gathering called "Sophie and Friends Run to the Sky" for Sunday at 2pm at the intersection of Thao Dien and Truc Duong Streets in order to educate pet owners on how to care for their dogs and cats without disturbing their neighbors.

He also plans to gather signatures from local residents to present to local police in the hope that authorities will take action on the matter.

In the end, Dr. Nghia stresses, the situation comes down to people, not animals. "This is related to human fault, human education and human cruelty," he says.

If you see suspicious activity related to the pet poisonings, take a picture of anyone involved and call the Thao Dien Police at 02838989516 or Dr. Nghia at 0909063267.

[Top photo via Health Line]

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