SELMA, Calif. (KFSN) --Five frightening finds in Fresno County-- dogs, dead from poison, point to a problem in at least one neighborhood.
"It's a neurotoxin and so it causes brain swelling, acts rather quickly and it's almost always fatal," said Brenda Mitchell of Fresno Humane Animal Services.
Her agency picked up all five dogs within 24 hours and all in the same general area -- right near Dinuba and Highland, near Selma. A Humane Services vet took a close look at one who was still alive. The dog had seizures and some other symptoms pointing to poison as his eventual cause of death and it turned out, all five dogs died from the same poison.
Stray dogs are a familiar sight in this Fresno County neighborhood, but when Alonzo Vazquez saw one acting weird near the corner store, he tried to help. It ran away, but didn't get far. "Came back two hours later and it was still in the same spot, foaming at the mouth," Vazquez said. "I thought maybe it was rabies or something."
The dog was suffering seizures and eventually died. Fresno Humane Animal Services says five dogs have died in the same area in less than a day -- all suffering from the same symptoms. They know the killer is a rat poison called bromethalin. It's a relatively new chemical you can buy at hardware stores, but unlike other rat poisons, bromethalin has no antidote.
Neighbors told us they suspect someone is intentionally poisoning the roaming dogs, but investigators say it may be accidental. "It could be somebody innocent that's putting out rat poison in their community and has no idea what's happening," said Mitchell.
Either way, neighbors are taking it as a warning and trying to beware of trouble for their own dogs. Vazquez has seven. "Do you get worried maybe now?" an Action News reporter asked him. "Oh yeah," he said. "Now, I didn't know that was going on, but yeah, very much so because those little suckers are like family so if you lose one, it's heartbreaking."
If your dog eats bromethalin, the deadly symptoms start to set in within a couple days The one thing you can do is to induce vomiting, but that only works in the first few minutes. It's best to just get the dog to the vet.