Officials reportedly believe they have found the source of what killed one dog and made 14 others sick in Rye, New Hampshire.
Police said caffeine was found in an item that was inspected following the death of a dog who visited one of the town's beaches. Since mid-November, authorities in Rye received various reports of dogs falling ill after visiting Wallis Sands state beaches and Wallis Road Extension.
Pet owners say the dogs eat something when being walked and become sick shortly after.
"There’s some caffeine, or traces of caffeine, in the edible item, and that is something that would not be healthy for dogs," said Rye Police Chief Kevin Walsh.
Walsh said investigators aren't ruling out the possibility that someone is intentionally trying to hurt dogs.
"That's something that's not responsible if somebody's doing that on purpose," said Walsh.
The deceased dog was taken in for a lab testing as well as a pet item found on a beach. Neither showed any trace of poison, according to police. However, caffeine was detected in both.
The ASPCA says tea leaves and coffee can be dangerous for dogs.
John McDonough, who walks his golden retriever "Fig" every day, said he couldn't imagine that a day on the beach could put his pet at risk.
"My dog digs in the sand and you think it's harmless digging up some sea shells or fish life or something like that," he said.
Despite the recent incidents, McDonough said he and his dog won't be deterred.
"To think that somebody would do that — it's certainly not going to limit the amount of people who bring their pets here. It's just sort of bizarre behavior," said McDonough.
The investigation on the dogs' illnesses remains ongoing. Anyone whose dog becomes ill at the above-named beaches or who has information is asked to call 603-964-5522.