Rodent Poisons, Lingering Risk

dog with mouse

Last in a series

As word got out that I was the go-to veterinarian for suspected dog poisonings I also became the default 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.