Toxic berries lethal to pets and children

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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A Hamilton couple is worried about the risk to pets and children from toxic karaka berries after their beloved dog Nala died after trying to eat them.

Flagstaff resident Clive Wadham said he was concerned other people might not be aware of the danger posed by the long oval green and orange berries. His wife Janine took their 6- year-old beagle for a walk early this week and watched her eat, then spit out a berry from one of the streetside karakas.

After they arrived home Nala started vomiting then had a seizure. They rushed her to the vets, who gave her antibiotics and anti-nausea medicine.

Nala died on Wednesday, the cause only pinned down after Mrs Wadham researched her symptoms and made the link to the karaka trees.

Mr Wadham said he was concerned that the trees may be present in other neighbourhoods and city parks and that that people may not understand that when crushed they can prove fatal to young children and animals.

Three years ago a dog's death after eating karaka berries in an Auckland park prompted a warning from the region's medical officer of health, that the poisonous berries were attractive to children and dogs.

Council parks and open spaces manager Sally Sheedy said there were four streets in the city where karaka trees have been planted as part of the subdivision planting plan. The plantings are all on the street, and became council's responsibility to maintain when the subdivisions were finished.

However, they are common in parks and the city's natural environment.

"We've had contact from these residents and we're very saddened by the loss of their dog. Events where animals are poisoned by vegetation are extremely rare. We echo the advice of other agencies and councils: owners and parents should keep pets and children under close supervision while out in Hamilton's environments. Dog owners are urged to keep animals on a lead to avoid them eating potentially harmful vegetation," she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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