Pet owners in Toronto’s west end are being advised to use caution after several dogs that were recently at an Etobicoke dog park fell ill.
Late Tuesday afternoon, officers from Toronto police’s 22 Division were called to a small private off-leash area on Summerland Terrace, near Dundas and Bloor streets, after receiving reports of someone “spreading chemicals on the grass.”
Members of Toronto Police Service’s Explosive Disposal Unit were also in attendance and collected samples of the substance for testing.
Toronto Animal Services was notified about the situation, which police are calling a “suspicious incident.”
According to police, someone put “crushed” chemicals on the AstroTurf in a now-closed leash-free zone next to a condo building.
The substance, which is being described as a white or grey powder, is believed to be a salt substitute, said Const. Laura Brabant.
Local resident Clifford Butten told CP24 that he saw a white substance at the enclosed park and shortly thereafter his dog, Frankie, developed a cough.
Butten said he then collected and provided a sample to police.
“I was curious and I wanted to find out because this poor guy’s been sick for a week.
A lot of dogs here have gotten sick and a lot of people are saying it’s kennel cough and so on, which is quite possible,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, where’s this coming from? They’re putting this intentionally on there because we’re always there. We know how clean the park is. We clean it ourselves.”
Brabant said the initial complainant told them their dog was sick for a “couple of days, and had a cough.” The animal became sick after July 15, she said.
Brabant noted that while at the scene, investigators were approached by at least three other dog owners who told them their pets were experiencing similar “pneumonia-like” symptoms.
No suspects have been identified at this time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Toronto police at 416-808-2200, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477 (TIPS) or www.222tips.com.