A DELACOMBE family has been left devastated after their two pet dogs were killed while both were playing in their own backyard.
The family, who have asked The Courier to withhold their name, say they are in no doubt that their two Jack Russell’s - Millie and Zac - were “baited” to eat something laced with sodium fluoroacetate, better known as 1080.
The RSPCA confirmed on Thursday both they and police were investigating the deaths, which is believed to be the second in the same area of its type since Easter.
The distraught owner said that one of the dogs was just 12 months old.
“Our dogs were just pups and had just spent time exercising in our back yard, running and chasing a ball,” she said.
“They played for about 15 minutes mid-afternoon then stayed in the yard while we had a cuppa.
“Within an hour both dogs were dead, and it was a cruel painful death for both pups and an absolutely devastating event to watch.”
The owner said the two dogs were not “yappers”, but the youngest was excitable like most young dogs.
She said the area near a compost bin had been disturbed which was unusual as the dogs never played near it.
“They never go down there, but it was all messed up,” she said. “We’re sure that someone has probably thrown something in that area like meat and the dogs have been baited by it.
“Who would do something like this? I can’t imagine someone could do something like this to two poor dogs.”
The RSPCA said it was working with police to determine what happened.
“RSPCA Victoria can confirm that it is working alongside Victoria Police to investigate community reports of an incident involving two dogs at a property in Delacombe,” RSPCA Victoria Inspector Graham Hambridge said.
“It is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 to intentionally administer or lay bait for an animal that contains a poison or substance that has a harmful effect.
“Anyone found guilty of illegally poisoning an animal can face fines up to $80,595 or two years’ imprisonment.”
The Department of Agriculture said pest animal bait products containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) or PAPP (4-aminopropiophenone) can be used in Victoria to control certain pest animals, like foxes or wild dogs under strict conditions.
“All users of 1080 and PAPP bait products must complete a course in minimising risks in the use of 1080 pest animal bait products,” the department’s website says.
“The only exception is if a person is applying baits under the direct and immediate supervision of a person who holds an Agricultural Chemical User Permit endorsed for 1080 and PAPP use.”
Mr Hambridge said if people had issues with neighbourhood dogs, they should contact the owners first or failing that, council.
“If you suspect that your pet has eaten a bait or poison, you must contact your local veterinarian immediately, even if there aren’t initially any signs of being unwell,” he said.