(KCBS) – Recently, poisonous meatballs were discovered in several San Francisco neighborhoods. Obviously, it was a major problem and of concern for owners of dogs and cats.

“Yeah, this is really terrible,” said Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA. “Back in July, hundreds of meatballs laced with strychnine were found throughout San Francisco parks, places where dogs frequent the most. And law enforcement officials believe that they were deliberately placed to poison dogs.”

“And,” she continued, “it worked. Many dogs were poisoned and one dog was confirmed to die from strychnine poisoning.”

“Be very vigilant. Keep them on leash or definitely within your sight,” Scarlett advised dog owners. “And remember that strychnine is not a discriminate poison. It will kill any wildlife or animal that ingests it so if you see something suspicious, please mark it and notify that San Francisco police.”

If you suspect your pet has ingested strychnine, Scarlett stresses that you need to act quickly, since the substance is immediately absorbed in the GI tract and signs of poisoning can present themselves within minutes to several hours; muscle tremors or seizure activity, for instance, is indicative of strychnine poisoning.

If your dog has ingested strychnine, or if you simply suspect as much, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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