It’s an alert for pet owners. Veterinarians in Tea believe as many as nine dogs have recently been poisoned in the town; some have even died.
The town's veterinarian is speaking out in hopes that other pet owners won't lose their dogs.
It's not fun for anyone to get sick and have to see a doctor. The same is true for dogs. But Onyx is doing better than when he arrived after eating what looked like a piece of beef jerky wrapped in some wax paper. He's now one of nine dogs to recently need medical help.
"With this many dogs affected in such a short period of time, whatever the poison was in had to be pretty tasty, I think, to almost draw the dogs in," Joe Spoo said.
Spoo, of the Tea Veterinary Clinic, believes the beef jerky had strychnine, a pesticide, inserted inside. Spoo had found some samples of what the dogs ate in the area where they all lived and sent them to South Dakota State University for testing. But as he waits for results, he's keeping a close watch on the dogs that got sick. They're now getting plenty of sleep because strychnine can cause their muscles to work too hard and eventually have seizures.
Not all of the dogs are recovering; four have since died. But the veterinarians believe with early detection, other dogs can be saved and that's why pet owners need to be watching for warning signs.
"Initially, it looked like the dog was just sore, especially on the weekend. Maybe it had been out playing a little bit more than normal and just looked like it had muscle soreness from one of the first nice weekends of the spring," Spoo said.
So since the warning signs may not initially raise concerns and the effects can be deadly, those who think their dog may have eaten some of the tainted jerky should seek medical help as soon as possible..
"It’s not something that someone's going to be able to pick up on their own. There isn't a blood test we can do to say this is what's going on," Spoo said.
And the concern doesn't end there. Those currently caring for the dogs are worried more pets could be sickened if not all the tainted meat is found and picked up.
Information has been turned over to the Tea Police Department and the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.