At least six dogs have died within hours of ingesting a poisonous bait at a Cyberport park over the weekend, sparking alarm for pet owners and veterinarians who so far have not been able to identify the deadly substance.
The dogs are believed to have eaten a luncheon meat-resembling block with a yellow-green power while at Cyberport Waterfront Park, veterinary clinics across the city say.
The Veterinary Specialty Hospital (VSH), which has clinics in Wan Chai and Ho Man Tin, told Coconuts it received seven cases of poisoned dogs on Sunday and Monday morning.
All of them had visited Cyberport Waterfront Park, a dog-friendly park in an affluent neighborhood, on Sunday.
Erik Zager, an emergency critical care specialist at VSH, said that symptoms among the dogs included a high fever and severe panting.
“The highest temperature we saw before death was 43.5 degrees Celcius,” Zager told Coconuts. “The others hung around 40 to 40.5 degrees. We had to cool them down with active cooling.”
The dogs that suffered a cardiac arrest had extremely rigid muscles, he added. “Their jaws got so tight that it was difficult to put in a breathing tube.”
Among the seven cases the clinic received, four of the dogs died. One was in critical condition but is steadily improving, while two did not ingest significant amounts of the poison and have relatively mild symptoms.
Another clinic, East Island 24-hour Animal Hospital, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that it had seen three cases of poisoned dogs. Two died, while one was in intensive care as of early Monday morning.
In a Facebook group called Hong Kong Dog Owners, many expressed shock and anger at the reports. They discussed putting muzzles on their dogs to prevent them from ingesting anything during their walks, and how to induce their pets to vomit immediately should they eat something suspicious.
“So sorry for the loss of Rocky!!” A member of the group wrote, referring to one of the dogs. “Such sad news and unimaginable why someone would do this!!”
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) says an individual has offered a reward of HK$100,000 (US$12,900) for anybody who can provide crucial information about the cases.
Zager said veterinarians have not been able to discern what the dogs were baited with. Tests checking for the presence of organophosphate, a compound found in insecticide and often used in pet poisonings, returned negative.
“This is really bad. I’ve not seen toxins like this before,” Zager said.