Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Puppy rushed to emergency 3 times after ingesting drugs in Vancouver Island public spaces

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

One puppy required emergency veterinary treatment three times in recent weeks amid growing concerns over the presence of drugs in Chemainus parks.

The puppy ingested marijuana walking in the fields and Chemainus Ball Park ball diamonds adjacent to the former St. Joseph’s School and along the Hermit’s Trail. The last time the puppy became ill a urine test detected the presence of an amphetamine as well as marijuana.

The owner of the puppy is so distraught she will no longer walk her dog in the area.

With no emergency vet care available in the Cowichan Valley, the owner has been required to take the puppy to Nanaimo for costly treatments each time.

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“I went with her the first time,” said friend and fellow dog walker Marjory Sutherland. “She was so freaked out.”

The first time was on Boxing Day night, then again two weeks later and the third time was just last Tuesday.

Sutherland and other dog owners are sounding warning bells to make others aware of the situation. They acknowledge smoking marijuana may be legal now, although not in a public sports park, but people responsible need to be reminded that animals or birds who ingest discarded parts are at risk of dying.

“Puppies are like babies,” said Sutherland. “They pick up everything and stick it in their mouths. It’s the little puppies that try everything and it does harm them.”

There is a homeless encampment nearby where the drugs are believed to be coming from, although Sutherland said that may not necessarily be the case and there could be other sources.

“A friend of mine said they don’t throw the roaches out,” said dog walker Christina Godbolt. “They obviously are. I think it’s disgusting. If you’re going to use the stuff, don’t dump it.”

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have been making patrols of the area after being contacted and Don Stewart, director of parks and recreation for the Municipality of North Cowichan, has also been notified.

People walking their dogs have also encountered drugs at Kin Beach and Waterwheel Park in recent years. But the Chemainus Ball Park remains the most popular site for walkers, especially during the pandemic for dogs to have space, and that’s where the majority of the drugs have been encountered recently.

“We figure about 100 people come up here all day,” noted Sutherland.

Dog owners might have to take drastic action to avoid a problem and be safe rather than sorry.

“What you have to do is put a muzzle on them,” said Sutherland. “They hate that.”

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