Family suspects dog was killed by anti-freeze poisoning aimed at coyotes

LARKSPUR, Colo. - Douglas County Animal Law Enforcement officials are investigating the apparent poisoning of an Australian Shepherd in the Valley Park subdivision near Larkspur.

The dog’s owner, Maria McCulloch, told 7NEWS that Lola became sick after ingesting anti-freeze tainted chicken last week.

“It was horrific,” McCulloch said.

The Larkspur woman said it brought back memories of what happened to her little grey Schnauzer, Jack, in May of 2010.

“Kaitlyn and Jack were out in the forest taking a walk, on our own property,” McCulloch said. “Jack popped into a little bit of scrub oak and came back out with (a piece of) chicken in his mouth.”

McCulloch said she’d heard from neighbors that someone was trying to poison coyotes, so she grabbed the chicken as quickly as she could.

“But it was too late,” she said. “Jack got sick. It was a long horrible process.”

She said the same thing happened to Lola last week.

“We suspect what’s happening,” she said, “is that someone is soaking the chicken in anti-freeze and is randomly throwing it around.”

She said whoever is doing it, has no business throwing the chicken on her property.

“It's the only way my dog could have gotten it," she said.

McCulloch told 7NEWS that two of her neighbors also lost two dogs each to poisoning. She said one of the neighbors has since moved.

Joe Stafford, the Director of Animal Law Enforcement in Douglas County, told 7NEWS that his office investigated a series of suspected poisonings in the Larkspur area two years ago, but found no evidence of animal cruelty.

“That’s not to say it didn’t happen,” Stafford said. “We just didn’t find the evidence.”

He says they are now actively investigating this most recent case.

He said the dog’s remains have been sent to CSU for a necropsy.

“We should have results in about a week to ten days,” Stafford said.

McCulloch said she knows that some people consider coyotes a nuisance, but she doesn’t.

“We love to sit on our porch and listen to the coyotes at night,” she said. “It’s wonderful. That’s why we live here. They don’t bother anything. And we live in their territory.”

McCulloch said it’s not just dogs that she’s concerned about, “it’s other wildlife, foxes, birds of prey, even squirrels.”

She said, “If the person who is setting out the poison could see what was happening to the animals and how horrible it is, it might change things."

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say landowners may kill coyotes on their land without a license if the coyote threatens their property or livestock.

When asked about the use of anti-freeze, Department spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said, “Some poisons are allowed under strict regulations and authorization for agricultural producers. Anti-freeze is not.”