As word got out in 1979 Placitas that I was the go-to veterinarian for dog-suspected poisonings I also became the repository for conspiracy theories, “common sense” solutions and intense emotional catharses. Everybody with anything to say (I mean anything) contacted my office, straining at the bit to speak to me directly. But I was busy pumping stomachs.
Of course, the sheriff’s office had been deluged with pleas for help, but then, just as suddenly as the poisonings had begun, there were no more. I didn’t believe for a minute that every dog in Placitas was now securely kept home; there weren’t many fenced yards in this village. It was another month before my staff and I finally exhaled.
Rodent poisons like diphacinone can stay active for a long time. Surely, whatever had been so widely distributed in the area hadn’t all been consumed by itinerant dogs. What worried me, as we waited for more tragedies to arrive, were the mouse and rat victims. This wasn’t about my affection for rodents (if they’re not pets, I’d rather be rid of them and their capacity to transmit plague and hantavirus).
Whether used in malicious poisoning or for their intended purpose of killing the little poopers that foul our silverware drawers, rodenticides are never safe for pets. Oh, sure, you can hide these baits where your cat or dog can never reach them but an anemic mouse with a slow internal bleed is easy to catch. Pets who’d eaten this not-so-fast food might have trickled into my clinic over the next few weeks. They didn’t.
There is a true yuck factor in rodent death. These are the critters who’ve quietly retreated to a crawl space, behind a wall, or nestled in heating/cooling ducts for their final resting place. My veterinary clinic, back in the day, was located next door to a feed store. It was a routine, and rather odious, maintenance task to sleuth out the location of decomposing mice above our ceiling tiles. Nothing against grain retailers but I choose different neighbors now.
⋄ For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups by 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 drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.