Some pet owners in Hinesburg, Vermont, worry someone may be trying to intentionally poison animals by leaving containers of automotive antifreeze outdoors, in places where outdoor pets could easily sip the fluid.
Katie Cannon, a cat owner, said she discovered cut-down soup cans in the woods near her neighborhood, which is not far from Lake Iroquois and Champlain Valley Union High School. The cans contained a bright green liquid Cannon said she was quite sure was antifreeze.
"It just made me really said," Cannon said. "The first thing I did, I took it right out and emptied it. It's a really offensive thing."
Cannon said separately, a neighbor also discovered similar containers placed on the ground. Those containers appeared to hold possible chemicals, as well, Cannon said. Between their two discoveries, Cannon estimated there were at least 10 cans left out.
Cannon told necn she now fears one of her pets, a cat named Dazer, may have gotten into that green fluid in the woods because the animal is suddenly exhibiting unusual behavior.
"That's not normal," Cannon said of her once-active 3-year-old cat, who now just lies around and appears to struggle to walk or stand. "Maybe she's in pain and doesn't want to hurt herself anymore?"
Dr. Patrick Leavey, a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Hinesburg, has not seen Dazer, but said he has handled antifreeze poisonings before, in cases where accidental ingestions took place.
"They eventually go into kidney failure," Leavey said of what happens to animals who consume the chemicals, which Leavey said has happened when animals lick the ground underneath vehicles with leaking fluid reservoirs.
Leavey said to a 10-pound cat, a teaspoon of antifreeze could be deadly. A dog may be able to tolerate slightly more of the coolant before their body shows signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or, when the kidney troubles start, of increased drinking and urination, the vet said.
Leavey told necn an antidote is available to help lessen the impact of the chemicals. "You have to catch it quite early and start up that therapy very soon, or the damage is, unfortunately, too severe and irreversible," he cautioned.
The coolant can smell and taste sweet to pets, Leavey said. However, in the aisles of auto parts stores, consumers may spot containers of antifreeze which are marked as containing a bittering agent which manufacturers add to discourage animals from licking it and consuming the harmful chemicals.
Chief Frank Koss of the Hinesburg Police Department said he and his officers learned about that suspicious fluid left out in the woods through Facebook posts that aimed to alert pet owners to the discovery of the containers.
"Everybody in this department is a pet owner, and this is completely unacceptable if somebody's doing it," Koss said of the idea of placing chemicals in the woods for animals to discover and consume.
Koss said he hopes members of the community will call in with more information on what could turn out to be possible poisoning attempts, to help police start an investigation into concerns.
In the meantime, Katie Cannon said she is having Dazer checked out, and is keeping a close eye on her other pets, in case someone is trying to hurt animals in her town.
The Humane Society of the United States provides more information on antifreeze poisoning on its website.