A young family is heartbroken after losing two dogs to poison within 24 hours of each other.
And it's certain the pets were deliberately killed.
Lucy, a 16-month-old husky/kelpie cross and Pablo, a 10-year-old finnish spitz, died late last week.
Kevin and Katherine Thys from Alfriston first noticed Lucy's legs trembling on Wednesday evening but put it down to an upset stomach.
They found her being violently ill in their front yard an hour later.
"She was shaking really badly and crunching her teeth and she had vomit all down her front. She was in a bad state," Mr Thys says.
The little dog was rushed to the Manukau After Hours Vet Clinic where she was assessed as having been poisoned, possibly with snail pellets.
Mr Thys had to make the "heart-wrenching" decision to put her down.
"I knelt down with her and told her how much we loved her and how sweet she was and that everything would be all right. Right when she went she opened her eyes and looked at me and I saw the light in her eyes die. That will haunt me forever - I'll never get over it."
The couple cautiously kept Pablo, the other dog, inside as much as possible after Lucy's death.
He was only out in the yard for an hour on Thursday afternoon while Mrs Thys ran some errands.
She returned and was horrified to find him in the same state as Lucy. She rushed him to the vet and was told that he, too, had likely eaten snail pellets.
Faced with a grim prognosis Mrs Thys sadly said goodbye to her beloved pet.
Mr Thys says there's no way the dogs could have been exposed to snail pellets accidentally.
They don't use snail pellets on their property. They always walked their dogs on leads and never in areas where snail pellets are present, he says.
He's spoken with the SPCA and police and is certain someone dropped the poison over their fence.
Mary-Ruth Doole from the Manukau vet clinic says it's not unheard of for dogs to be deliberately poisoned.
"It's malicious and it's against the law and it's cruel to the animal. It's a painful and horrible death."
Most of the poisonings she sees are likely done by disgruntled neighbours, Dr Doole says.
But Mr Thys says his family has not had any problems with neighbours so he suspects it was done by someone they don't know.
They might have killed the dogs in hopes of burgling the house later, he says.
The couple's 7-year-old daughter Aleisha is traumatised by the deaths of her pets.
She doesn't want another dog because it, too, might be poisoned.
Mr Thys says he's speaking out so families are aware of the issue and can take steps to keep their dogs safe.
He doesn't want to see another child heartbroken like his own daughter.
"No child should have to go through that," Mr Thys says.
Counties Manukau police central area commander Inspector Julia Lynch says she's not aware of any deliberate dog poisonings in the area but police are looking into the issue.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should we raise the retirement age?