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General News · 29th April 2020
Norm Gibbons.
Recently I took my eight-month-old puppy, Duende, for a walk along the intertidal zone of Smelt Bay. There he ingested something he shouldn’t have. Soon the following symptoms appeared: drowsiness, loss of appetite, heavy panting, and later these symptoms became severe including screams of either pain or fear, total loss of motor coordination in the hind legs, no detectable pulse or breathing, lowered temperature, inability to swallow, vomiting, diarrhea, and coma. We called the 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital in Courtenay and they recommended bringing him to the hospital immediately as the condition sounded like a drug overdose. Unfortunately, the last ferry had already left therefore we had to wait for the first departure in the morning. Long story short - we stayed up all night with the dog not knowing if he would survive. Thank you Lisa and Jonah for assisting me through the night.

We arrived at the veterinary hospital at 10 a.m. Due to COV-19 protocol, we were not allowed to go into the building with him. A nurse soon telephoned to say that Duende tested positive for high amounts of THC and Methadone. The doctor later told us that the combined dosage was lethal for a dog his size. They put him on an I.V. drip for four-hours delivering much needed detoxing agents and saline water. The happy ending to the story is that he survived his ordeal and today seems as normal and loving as a pup can be.

I have had a chance to do research on opioids and opiates, which are drugs designed to provide pain relief for both animals and humans. Legal forms of methadone are used to treat heroin and other opioid addictions. There are many reported incidents of canines accidentally ingesting these drugs, becoming ill and dying. The drugs can be in pill or patch form. Illegally, they are mixed as “cocktails” - for instance, a marijuana bud sprinkled with fentanyl used in the drug culture to maintain or enhance a high. I assume that all of us are aware that a drug culture exists on Cortes Island.

The intent in this letter is to alert dog owners to exercise caution when walking your dog. We all know that they will eat anything, which includes toxic materials carelessly thrown on the ground, the intertidal beaches, or along forest trails and roadways. This may sound gross, but human feces when excreted remain toxic despite the best efforts of the digestive system and are sometimes consumed by canines or other animals. A nurse at the emergency hospital told me that her dog had experienced a similar crisis as Duende. Her dog had eaten human feces. Perhaps, Duende did too.

I encourage those of you using these drugs to exercise care and responsibility when relieving yourself or accidentally dropping your stash of drugs on the ground.

Norm Gibbons 250-935-6601