More suspected poisonings result in death of dogs in Kimberley

Several dogs have died, or become ill, in recent weeks after walking on local trails

Another dog has died in Kimberley, potentially due to ingesting poison, this time in the Lois Creek area. Additionally, there were reports of another dog dead and yet another sick after finding bread in a ditch in the Summer Sub area.

Sivan Bar-Sever took her six-year-old dog Stella for a walk at around 7:30 p.m. in the Lois Creek trails.

“We were probably 15, 20 minutes into the walk and I just looked over and her back legs gave way and then her front legs and then she just kind of crumpled over and stopped breathing probably a minute or two after that,” Bar-Sever said. “Then her heart beat slowed right down and she was dead probably five minutes later.”

It happened very quickly and Stella had been healthy and lively all day prior to the walk, so it was extremely shocking.

“It was a total surprise and a shock,” she said, “and I had my seven-year old with me and our friends and their seven-year-old and their puppy was with us too,” she said. “[The kids] are having a pretty emotional day today for sure.”

Stella’s body was immediately brought to Steeples Vet Clinic. Nothing was found in her stomach, but Steeples staff still feel it’s prudent to send her for a full autopsy to check for any toxins, and will do so on Monday.

“I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions about what had happened, but at the same time I wanted other dog owners to be aware of what had happened. I think it’s really important to find out why all these puppies are dying in the area, to try and see if it is about poison or not.

“We were in such a high-traffic area; there’s people walking their dogs in Lois Creek all day, every day. So if that’s an area that’s being targeted for poisoning, then that’s really awful.”

On May 8, Sam McCurdie and his family lost both of their dogs, three-year-old Talu, mother to seven-month-old Gnara.

READ MORE: Two dogs dead after suspected poisoning in Ta Ta Creek residence

Talu had the most severe symptoms and so her body was sent to Prairie Diagnostic Services in Saskatoon, SK. After analysis it was confirmed that a lethal amount of ethylene glycol, a chemical in antifreeze, was found in her kidneys.

Prairie Diagnostic Services were unable to test the dogs’ vomit that was also sent, and so it was then sent off to a lab in Guelph, Ont., where they discovered more ethylene glycol concentration than they’d ever seen in a single sample, according to McCurdie.

“It was like, a cap will kill a dog, but this was a lot more than a cap,” McCurdie said. “I got that call when I was at work and I was thinking about taking the day off and I decided not to, but it was really disturbing hearing that.”

Initially when the incident happened and McCurdie contacted the RCMP, he was told that once the lab confirmed poison, they could begin an investigation.

However, once he called the RCMP officer back to inform them of the results, McCurdie says he was told that, as the compound is found in antifreeze, it would be next to impossible to investigate.

McCurdie had been in regular contact with Steeples Veterinary Clinic manager Andrew Skaien.

“He’s been phenomenal throughout this whole thing,” McCurdie said. “The minute he knows something he updates me and we’ve had lots of conversations and I really, really appreciate that dude.”

Skaien asked McCurdie how his experience with the RCMP was going.

“I said nothing really feels like it’s moving, it kind of feels like it’s not a priority,” McCurdie said. “I understand there’s more stuff going on in the community, but I said, if this was my daughter it would be a major, major issue.

“Thank god it wasn’t my daughter, but it just keeps coming back to that. It very easily could have been, that’s the seriousness that this issue needs to be taken.”

Skaien then provided McCurdie with the contact information for Staff Sgt. Barry Graham of the Cranbrook detachment, who had worked on the investigation into the dog deaths in the Cranbrook Community Forest in 2017.

READ MORE: RCMP investigate multiple dog deaths linked to Cranbrook forest

McCurdie said that Graham immediately took the case more seriously than the previous officer he had dealt with. Graham asked if he could update the file.

McCurdie said that after the deaths of his dogs, he received many emails from numerous people, claiming they knew, or suspected they knew who had killed Talu and Gnara; people in the community with a history of harming animals, for example.

“It’s painful, every time someone says I know, or I have a clue, or maybe this person it’s a lot of energy and it’s a lot of picking at that scab and I got tired of it,” he said.

He would forward all of these potential leads to the original officer he was dealing with, who he said told him that they aren’t able to point fingers.

“I said, ‘I’m not asking you to do that, I’m just asking you to do your job, just ask a question, that’s it.’”

Graham, however, updated the file with all of the information, according to McCurdie, and said the RCMP would be speaking with the potential people of interest.

“I guess we’ll have to let the RCMP do what they need to do and hope that they find something.”

Since losing his family’s beloved dogs, whose cremated remains were recently returned to them, life has been tough for the McCurdies.

“I look around the house and there’s pictures of the dogs that kids draw, everywhere,” he said. “They are family. They draw their brothers and their sisters and their dogs and it’s all on the same drawings all the time, so it’s really been crazy.”

Talu and Gnara acted as protectors to the family’s animals: alpacas and chickens. Since their passing, McCurdie has lost all of his chickens to either coyotes or a fox. He has installed surveillance cameras around the property and has more coming in the mail, to cover a blind spot on the chicken coop. Multiple neighbours in the TaTa Creek area have done the same, he added.

“That’s not the kind of community we want to live in either,” he said.

They’ve also been denied in their application to get two new Pyrenees dogs. When they applied they were asked what their experience is with big dogs, and McCurdie told them what had happened with Talu and Gnara.

“So we say what happened and they tell us they can’t take that risk. And I understand but it’s heartbreaking too.”

McCurdie hadn’t heard of the most recent dog’s death in Kimberley, the last he was aware of was the incident in the Gold Creek area.

READ MORE: Cranbrook vet cautioning public about suspected dog poisoning

In that instance, the owners of the dogs and the RCMP chose not to pursue a necropsy.

Results have not yet come in from Bar-Sever’s dog, so Skaien wasn’t able to provide an update in that regard, but he urges the public to keep their dogs on leash and monitor them closely for the time being.

Anyone with any information about suspicious behaviour is urged to contact the RCMP, who can be reached in Kimberley at 250-427-4811.

Many people in the community are upset by these recent incidents and some have taken it upon themselves to form a group and contact the RCMP to seek information.

The Bulletin has reached out to both the Kimberley and Cranbrook RCMP detachments for comment, but at the time of writing they have yet to respond.

READ MORE: Two dogs dead, a third extremely ill after walking in Wycliffe Butte

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