A chihuahua has died from a suspected baiting incident on a suburban Melbourne street.
It adds to a growing number of baiting reports in the surrounding areas, as dog owners are advised to be extra vigilant while walking their pets.
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Local dog owners say they are now working with Victoria Police and the council to investigate the baiting claims, while warning others about potentially targeted areas.
Armadale, Como Park, Fawkner Park, Prahran Square, Phoenix Square are flagged as areas of concern in a Stonnington Community Facebook group alert, posted by local dog owners who have been collating reports of suspected baiting.
Stonnington Council told 7NEWS.com.au: “In response to recent concerns raised by members of the community about the potential presence of dog baits, Council is taking the extra precaution of erecting signs in and around popular dog exercise areas.”
One of Rose Van Bakel’s four chihuahuas was killed in a suspected dog baiting incident last week.
Bambi, a chocolate brown chihuahua, was just days from his 4th birthday.
“He ate poison on the nature strip,” Van Bakel said in a social media post.
“Even though it was (removed from) his mouth in no time, he started salivating and frothing at the mouth.
“Within half an hour, I rushed him to the hospital, and he passed away.
“He ended up deaf and blind, totally brain-dead from the poison, and he died in my arms in the end. It was just a shocking situation.”
She said Bambi’s death has affected her other three dogs.
“They saw him go through so much pain, they don’t want to walk at all and they’re not eating,” she said.
“More people need to be very careful. I thought I was very careful because I’m fully aware of the baiting in the area, but it just happens way too quickly.
“I pulled out as much as I could from his mouth but, being such a small dog, it still killed him.
“He was honestly my baby, no words can describe how I’m feeling. I’m so broken.
“His birthday is in three days, he would have been four years old. Nothing can prepare you for the loss, particularly when they are so young.
“It’s devastating, and it’s been going on for many months. But for a small chihuahua he never stood a chance.
“He was so sweet and beautiful.”
Bambi is one of three dogs reported to have died of suspected baiting in Melbourne, according to local sources.
A City of Stonington spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au: “Council takes all reports of suspected baits seriously and rigorously tests any suspicious matter collected in its parks and reserves.
“While actual cases of dog baiting are very rare, the City of Stonnington encourages dog owners to be vigilant in ensuring dogs do not ingest any foreign material while they are being walked.”
‘Don’t bin the bait’
Local dog owners have been urging the local community to be aware of baiting.
“We must all assume that all dog parks and many streets contain poisoned bait. You are advised that off-leash exercise is unsafe,” a Stonnington Community Facebook group alert said.
“Consider getting your dog a muzzle.
“Also it’s been suggested that a dog in Armadale was recently poisoned on its own property – poison potentially thrown into a front garden.”
One dog-lover posted on social media that she spoke to Victoria Police about the reports of baiting and advised: “Please don’t bin the bait. Take it to the police as they held the last lot of baiting there as evidence.”
Stonnington City Council advised dog owners to exercise extra caution when walking their dogs.
“This is a timely reminder to always keep a close eye on your dog and don’t let them eat anything on the ground,” it said in a social media post.
“If you are worried your dog has eaten something suspicious, contact your vet immediately or if you suspect baiting please contact us or VicPol.”
St Kilda Veterinary Clinic also issued a social media warning to pet owners.
“We are kindly requesting our clients be extra vigilant when walking their dogs at local parks and to report any sightings of bait or cases of dog poisoning in the community (with details of time, place found and photo evidence if possible),” it said.
An e-petition has been lodged in the hope of introducing harsher penalties for those found guilty of baiting.
It aims to highlight a “need for harsher penalties for persons found guilty of placing poisonous substances in public places with the purpose of harming animals or other living beings”.