The anxiety of pernicious poisoning - Albuquerque Journal

The anxiety of pernicious poisoning

Third in a series.

There were no Nextdoor or Facebook apps in the late ’70s, but word spread fast. A meeting was organized quickly at the elementary school in Placitas featuring Dr. Firestone, a local pediatrician, plus a young veterinarian with sweaty palms. Ah, that was me.

Being sought out as an expert on a toxin I had only just learned existed was a bit daunting. I spoke with Dr. Claire Hibbs, veterinary pathologist at the newly created New Mexico Veterinary Diagnostic lab. He sent the information he had by U.S. post. (No faxes then, either.)

My first conversation with Claire, a man old enough to be my father, involved another recent poisoning – an accidental event. Being the inveterate instructor, he could not help but ask me that agent’s mechanism of action. When I spat out the answer, I got the sense that he was hoping I’d miss so he could advance my knowledge. Maybe I should have brightened his day by feigning ignorance, but I’ve always hated looking more stupid than necessary.

When I arrived at the big event, my head swimming with toxicology data, I met Dr. Firestone and an astonishing number of Placitas residents just brimming with anxiety and questions. Would dogs and cats who had been loose in the preceding few days start bleeding internally like Big Blue? (Maybe.) Could people get this poison from their pets? (Couldn’t happen.) How long would hidden diphacinone remain active? (Indefinitely.) What at-home remedies would help? (None.)

I had back-up. A cranky, old-school and highly temperamental large animal veterinarian presented himself as the expert. The old-timer pontificated at length on insecticide toxicity (completely unrelated). Suitably ignored, he finally stalked out in a huff. Embarrassing and humorous.

There was actually a reasonable conclusion to the groupthink. I volunteered, at no charge, to perform every necropsy on every pet who succumbed. By extension, this meant that cats and dogs with any symptoms suggestive of poisoning would arrive at my North Fourth Street clinic at all hours. Was I crazy? Well, these folks were desperate.

Next week: Survivors?

• For help with behavior problems, you can sign up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a veterinary behaviorist. He gives consultations in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet questions on or by mail 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » The anxiety of pernicious poisoning

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Grammer: What Rick Pitino to St. John's means for ...
ABQnews Seeker
Odds & ends around UNM hoops, ... Odds & ends around UNM hoops, including the status of next season's Iona game and an update on the first Lobo in the transfer ...
Volcano Vista's Alter commits to the University of the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Volcano Vista's 6-foot-9 Sean Alter, who ... Volcano Vista's 6-foot-9 Sean Alter, who was integral as the Hawks won their second straight Class 5A state basketball championship earlier this month, has ...
Kids connect with nature at ABQ BioPark’s spring break ...
ABQnews Seeker
Nearly 50 elementary school kids are ... Nearly 50 elementary school kids are spending all or some of the five days of their spring break visiting the attractions that make up ...
Prep notes: Schools making quick use of APS out-of-state ...
ABQnews Seeker
When Albuquerque Public Schools made it ... When Albuquerque Public Schools made it known they were opening the door for out-of-state travel for its spring sports programs this year, the La ...
Albuquerque Metro Championship finals delayed indefinitely
ABQnews Seeker
Neither the metro softball final between ... Neither the metro softball final between Volcano Vista and La Cueva, nor the baseball final at Rio Rancho between the Rams and La Cueva, ...
Photos: Rio Rancho take on La Cueva during the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Supreme Court seems split in Navajo Nation water rights ...
ABQnews Seeker
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed split ... WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed split Monday as it weighed a dispute involving the federal government and the Navajo Nation's quest for water from ...
Wind and scattered rainfall in store for Albuquerque this ...
ABQnews Seeker
Travellers should beware of dicey road ... Travellers should beware of dicey road conditions, particularly on the plains.
Four deaths in 24 hours: Details emerge in weekend ...
ABQnews Seeker
Police identify 3 of 4 homicide ... Police identify 3 of 4 homicide victims.