On Saturday, January 30th, pet owners awoke to find their family dogs either dead, convulsing or bleeding heavily. Panic set in at the Tres Cocos Area, north of San Pedro Town as pet owners tried to ascertain what was happening. At the end of the spell, eight dogs were dead, two recovered while one remained hospitalized.
According to Michelle Torres, dog owner, she found a purple pellet on her pet’s stool and immediately sought medical attention. During the ordeal, she received frantic calls from neighbors, whose pets were convulsing, vomiting blood or had extreme diarrhea with blood in the feces.
Veterinary doctor Laurie Droke of the San Pedro Animal Hospital explained that she did treat three of the dogs who were presenting severe symptoms. The first item on the agenda was lowering the extreme fever that these animals presented. Other symptoms included weakness, trembling and seizures. Once the dogs presented signs of improved health, Dr. Droke began investigating the suspect chemical that was consumed. Based on the symptoms and the composition of the pellets, she strongly believes that the drug used was a strong pesticide known as Furadan (carbofuran pesticide).
Furadan is so powerful and toxic that it has been banned in Europe while in the United States it cannot be used in granular form, and the US Environmental Protection Agency is seeking a total ban. A quarter teaspoon of the insecticide can kill a human being.
Residents and pet owners claim to have found pieces of either boiled or raw chicken with the pellet stuck in the meat. Although suspicion has been casted as to who might have thrown the tainted meat in people’s yards and on the beach, the culprit has still not been pinpointed. The North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch has issued a $1,000 reward which will lead to the apprehension of the person or persons responsible for the killings.
On the other hand, on February 3rd, employees and Environmental organizations discovered dead fish floating in the canal waters of Sugar Caye Development. Snook, was among one of the specie of fish found dead either on the banks of the development or floating in the canal waters. According to Hol Chan Marine Reserve Manager Miguel Alamilla, the fish kill may be associated to the ongoing dredging and development of the area. However, he did state that Belize does not have the proper equipment to determine the cause of death of the fish. Without a proper determination as to the cause of death, it can not be attributed to Sugar Caye’s work.
Sugar Caye on the other hand, have lodged a complaint with the Police Department based on the statements of a witness. According to Cesar Valladarez, barge operator for Sugar Caye, claims that at 8:30 a.m. a man parked his golf cart on the entrance of the canal and proceeded to dump a bag full of dead fish into the canal. Valladarez went on to explain that he knows the individual and has seen him before. The person in question, he says, proceeded to take pictures of the dead fish in the water and soon after Hol Chan Marine personnel and environmental organization members arrived on the scene. Sugar Caye has proceeded to issue a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to the apprehension of whom they believe dumped the fish in the water.