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Lab Results Confirm Pesticide Killed Dogs In Tea

April 15, 2010, 5:47 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Lab Results Confirm Pesticide Killed Dogs In Tea
TEA, SD -  
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office got confirmation from lab work Thursday that strychnine is what's making dogs sick. The pesticide has not been available over the counter since the early 1990s.

The dogs started getting sick this past weekend. At least nine turned ill and four of them died. Now, dog owners across the town want answers.

Lincoln County Sheriff's deputies are still talking with people in the northwest portion of Tea where homeowners say they've lost members of their families.

"You just try to get over it, but its pretty much all you think about is the dog on the back deck, sitting there suffering and dying right in front of you," Ross Deelstra said.

Investigators want to be sure they can pin-point the exact source of the poison. Those who live in the area have their suspicions; however, they don't yet want to point fingers. But they do want to know how nine dogs within a small area all got sick from the pesticide-injected beef.

"Somehow, that stuff got placed in our back yard. I don't know if it was thrown in there, or what, but I know that dog doesn't leave our yard," Deelstra said.

Deelstra and his family watched helplessly when their three-year old boxer named Charlie died. Today, Bullet, who was also poisoned, is doing much better than when he was taken to the veterinarian. But Deelstra is worried about what could happen if more of the tainted meat somehow got into the hands of his daughter.

"If she gets a hold of that and puts it in her mouth, she's going to die if its going to kill and 80 pound dog. She only weighs 30 pounds. And you know little kids, they put everything in their mouth they get ahold of," Deelstra said.

And with authorities on the case, those who've lost their dogs say they just want answers, especially if someone is intentionally poisoning dogs.

"After a day, after the first day he died, you just kind of accept that its just natural causes and after this all happens, its kind of like, this could have definitely been avoided," Deelstra said.

When dogs are poisoned with strychnine, the symptoms, including seizures, can appear in about ten minutes, or take as long as two hours to become apparent.

The town's veterinarian hasn't seen any new cases since we first brought you the story on Monday.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
An earlier version of this story indicated strychnine has not been on the market since the early 1990s. To clarify, the pesticide has not been available over the counter since the early 1990s.

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