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rat poison

A weather-worn packet of rat poison nearly sickened a Missoula dog when her owner went for a walk on trails near the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation compound in Missoula. Quick response by a veterinarian saved the dog.

A flash of green on St. Patrick’s Day nearly proved tragic for a Missoula dog owner.

Jen Certa was walking her Lucy, her Labrabor/Australian kelpie cross, near the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation compound on Saturday when the dog picked up a green package near the trail. When Certa inspected the weather-worn wrapper, she saw poison warnings.

“She didn’t start getting sick, but I took her straight to the emergency vet,” Certa said. “They found it was rat poison, and unfortunately the kind she ingested was a neurotoxin. There’s not a lot they can do if a dog ingests that. She had some in her stomach, but she didn’t have time to digest it.”

Certa and Lucy were cruising a popular walking trail off Spurgin Road and had just passed the helicopter landing field and tree nursery south of the DNRC compound. The package still had green pellets of poison inside, lying about 8 feet from the path.

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DNRC spokesman John Grassy said it’s possible the packet came from the nursery where gardeners need to prevent rodents from getting at their seeds and plantings. That brand hadn’t been recently used at the greenhouse, but Grassy said it had been in the past. It might have been carried away from the site by a fox or other animal, he added.

“Going forward, we will ask nursery workers to notify office staff in advance of placing rodent bait packets,” Grassy wrote in a message to Certa. “During the fall months, dog walkers can then call the forestry division at 406-542-4300 to find out which buildings are being treated. We will also post a notice at the kiosk where most dog-walkers begin their strolls. Dog lovers can help, too, by making sure their canines do not enter the greenhouses or other buildings. Landowners in the area should ensure they are using any pest-control products responsibly.”

Certa said Lucy has fully recovered.

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