Dog could have died from eating toxic bread, town council investigating

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Bread spiked with a tranquilliser and intended for a pigeon culling exercise may have killed an eight-year-old Sheltie-Cavalier dog on Nov 16.

Marine Parade Town Council (MPTC) said it is investigating the incident, which bears some similarities to a case in 2013.

In that instance, a dog died after eating spiked bread left out for pigeons by a pest control company.

The Straits Times learnt that both incidents involved the same company, Clean Solutions, which is engaged by three town councils here, including MPTC.

The dog owner, Ms Natasha Wilkins, 49, said the incident happened while she was walking her dog Ludo along Lorong Lew Lian at about 6.30am.

Before she could stop her dog, it ate a piece of bread and within 15 minutes, it started shaking, retching and foaming at the mouth.

Veterinarian Dawn Ong, who saw Ludo, said the dog's mouth was filled with a white viscous liquid.

"We suspect it was due to some sort of toxin, though we can't confirm what type," she added.

After contacting MPTC the same day, Ms Wilkins learnt that a pest buster, contracted by the town council, had used spiked bread to cull pigeons on Nov 15 in the same area where she walked her dog.

Ms Wilkins, a British national and permanent resident here, claimed she was initially told by MPTC that it could not comment directly on the case since there was no official autopsy report linking Ludo's death to the pigeon culling.

An MPTC spokesman said: "We have since reached out to her and clarified that there may be other factors that could have led to the unfortunate incident.

"We are investigating this matter with her, together with our pest control operator."

Ms Wilkins said she met MPTC officials and representatives from Clean Solutions on Nov 17.

The Straits Times understands that in the MPTC culling exercise, bread spiked with an anaesthetic compound called alpha-chloralose was given to pigeons.

The birds were then tranquilised and taken away.

This is in line with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) guidelines.

But leftover bread is supposed to be taken away as well.

Ms Wilkins said she had not been aware of the culling exercise and did not see the notice put up by the town council on the notice board at Block 8, along Lorong Lew Lian.

In 2013, a dog died after eating poisoned bread left out for pigeons by Clean Solutions, which was engaged by West Coast Town Council. The company was later given a warning.

An AVA spokesman said property management staff, including town councils, should be present to supervise pest control personnel during "pigeon management operations".

They are also encouraged to put up notices in common areas prior to the start of pigeon control operations.

Ms Wilkins said: "Birds fly and the things they put in their mouth could drop even if they picked it up from somewhere else."