Reward offered for paraquat poisoner

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An anonymous donor is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people poisoning dogs with paraquat in 
Grand Cayman. 

“CARE has been approached by a company that is willing to put up a reward of $2,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the paraquat poisoning of dogs. The company wants to remain anonymous,” said Alana Julie of CARE.  

The company’s largest shareholder, who contacted the Caymanian Compass, said he and other members of the company are pet owners who have become concerned about the ongoing spate of poisonings that have claimed the lives of several dogs this year. 

He said the dog poisonings and the continued sale and availability in Cayman of paraquat herbicide, which is banned or heavily restricted in several countries, was “giving a negative image of these Islands internationally”. 

The Cayman Islands Humane Society reports that in recent months it has been getting calls about dogs being poisoned every other day across the island. 

Last week, six dogs in a single area of Prospect were 
fatally poisoned. 

A petition calling for a ban on paraquat in the Cayman Islands is currently being circulated. By Wednesday, it had been signed by more than 1,660 people. 

 

Prevalence unknown  

The herbicide used to be available from the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture, but the department stopped offering it for sale in 2009. However, there is are no regulations or legislation stopping any individual from importing paraquat into Cayman. 

The Cayman Islands Customs and Excise Department are unaware of how much paraquat is imported into Cayman because of the way herbicides are categorised when imported. 

The Caymanian Compass filed a Freedom of Information request with Customs and Excise which asked how much paraquat was imported in Cayman during the past four years and who imported it. The request included a list of brand name herbicides that contain paraquat. 

The Customs and Excise Department responded that its computer system does not allow for those records to be properly identified, as it would require staff “to physically pull every entry under tariff heading 38.01 from 2008 to 2012”. 

Sacha Rankine, the designate information manager for Customs and Excise, explained in a phone call to the Compass that staff input information into the computer system under individual tariff headings. Tariff 38.1 refers to “disinfectants, insecticides, fungicides, vermin poisons, herbicides, etc.” 

She said this meant that the brand names of any particular herbicides, including those containing paraquat, would not be listed in Customs’ computer system.  

A new customs tariff law was passed earlier this year, which created an expanded system of 5,000 different categories of product, compared to the current 221 categories. 

Under the new tariff system, herbicides are listed a sub-category under category 38.08, which include insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides, antisprouting products and plant-growth regulators, disinfectants and similar products. However, as there is no separate listing for individual ingredients within such products, paraquat would not be listed under this new system either. 

 

Fatal poison  

Laboratory tests on several dead dogs over the years have shown that they have been poisoned by paraquat and many more are suspected by the veterinarians who have had to euthanise the animals to have ingested the herbicide because they display the classic symptoms of paraquat poisoning. Paraquat poisoning is nearly always fatal, vets say. 

Once ingested, paraquat attacks the kidneys, causing irreparable damage, but most dogs that have eaten the poison die from the impact it has on the lungs. It causes lung fibrosis over a period of time, leading to a slow death as the animal eventually asphyxiates. 

According to police Superintendent Adrian Seales, only a handful of the reports of poisoned dogs that have been covered by the media have been reported to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, meaning few people whose dogs have been poisoned have reported the incidents to police.  

“In fact, the last report was made on 9 May, bringing the total number of reported incidents between January and June 2012 to four,” said Superintendent Seales. He said no one has been arrested or charged in relation to the poisoning reports. 

The Animals Law states that “a person who, wilfully, without any reasonable cause or excuse, administers or causes or procures … administration of any poisonous or injurious drug or substance to any animal … commits an offence of cruelty” and is liable on conviction to a fine of $4,000 and imprisonment for one year. 

Zena
Zena, owned by Renee Knight, was poisoned by paraquat earlier this year. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED

8 COMMENTS

  1. It comes from the Parks department. Our dog was targeted two summers ago by an individual working for RCPU at Public Beach. He mixed in the paraquat with chicken bones.
    Fortunately he only ingested a small amount and because he is a large dog and the rapid response of our vet he survived.
    Needless to say we don’t take him to that area anymore. What bothers me the most about that situation is we always kept our dog on a leash and under control. This occurred after about our 10th early morning trek in that area which coincided with RCPU clean-up there. I didn’t pursue it with RCIPS because I am an expat and figured karma would take care of the idiot anyway.

  2. Well there we go again. The government is importing the stuff and we are looking for the wrong person.
    I walk my dog at Kaibo Public park and have seen some, what I call bait stations in the park.
    One of the problems is that people don’t clean up after their dog (animal) and the parks people might get a little irked because they have to clean it up.
    Still no reason to put out illegal poison

  3. I think the fines and jail times should be way stiffer/longer. Also, I’d love to add money to that 2000 reward, but if the company is anonymous, I don’t see how to do that. Maybe along with the petition, there should be a way to donate towards a big reward for the depraved killer.

  4. After reading your candid reporting on the paraquat poisoning of several dogs, I was shocked and disgusted to learn that this poison is allowed into the island even after the Department of Agriculture had ceased offering it for sale in 2009.

    Equally disturbing is that the Customs and Excise Dept’s computer cannot identify how much of this herbicide was imported over the past 4 years. Come on! This is POISON!!! So anyone is free to import products containing paraquat without restrictions. More alarming is that under the new tariff system, paraquat would not be identified.

    I am most grateful to the Compass for giving this situation the prominence it deserves. Also worthy of praise is that a reward has been offered for information resulting in the arrest/conviction of those reposnsible for poisoning dogs with paraquat. We hope those involved in this despicable criminal act will be brought to justice under the full extent of the law.

  5. Let’s get one thing straight here. Paraquat is like having a gun however, a gun does not kill without someone holding it pulling the trigger and the same goes for anything else that kills, hell, aspirin will kill you if you ingest too many of them.

    I am in favour of free import trade by all means but there are items such as guns and virtually guaranteed killers such as paraquat, strichnine and a host of other product that should and can only be obtained through certified and licensed retailers/applicators. One can own a gun if properly licensed to a responsible owner and it should be the same for all other products of this killing nature with exception that certain products should not reach our shores at all for all the obvious reasons. If the legislators can see the daylight in this, we will be on the right track of ending this senseless killing of innocent animals caused by these product.

    Sadly, locking up at least one of these criminals will not solve the problem long term if we do not ban these products once and for all.

    As always, education is key to all problems and will agree that dog owners must live up to their responsibility to clean up after their animals as well that spay and neutering should be mandatory for all cats and dogs until we run out of animals to adopt and it should close to a crime to let all these animals breed the way is is allowed now without regard for the consequences.

    We can all help once you witness an owner who does not stick to the clean up rules and ask them (nicely of course) to clean up after their pets natural needs and do it for the sake of the animals safety and a show of love and respect for them. That way you can prove to your dog that you are the good person your dog already thinks you are.

  6. The individuals guilty of poisoning these dogs in this manner, are monsters. Last year my family had to witness the horrible experience of watching our long loved family friend die from Paraquat poisoning. He was discovered by the kids and we had to watch him endure the horrible effects of the poison as it slowly killed him. I can remember the horrible sound of his breathing as he suffered. I had to battle with the vet telling me there was nothing that could be done and my kids begging me not to put him under, as they hoped and prayed he would survive.
    The year before that I had to rush my mom’s dog to vet for the same reason. Upon reaching the vet’s office, she took one look at him and asked me to send the kids out. I knew what that meant. This is such a sad and cruel thing and I pray this product is banned and the laws are updated and enforced to bann cruelty to animals. My brother’s dog’s face was recently mutilated by a passer by who decided to enter the yard and slap the dog with a piece of board across his face, because he barked at him. I totally agree this is a cultural thing and it needs to stop.

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