‘It looks like someone poisoned him’

WAILUA — A lost hunting dog that became an illusive but friendly nuisance in the upper Homesteads was believed to be poisoned, according to one upset resident.

Tom French, a retired, former executive director of the Children’s Justice Center of Kauai, lives in the rise area of the Wailua Homesteads. He said a black, wire-haired Airedale mix started hanging around the neighborhood six months ago. Other neighbors said the dog had been spotted as far back as a year near the reservoir.

“It was obvious the dog did not belong to anybody,” French said. “It was living primarily in the valley across from my house.”

He recalled the dog was subsisting on chickens and someone was feeding it. It didn’t seem to chase or fight with other dogs or cats. The dog started hanging around the French property and would follow them on walks and seemed friendly.

“He was energetic and playful but very skittish and wouldn’t let anyone within touching range,” French said.

Not everyone liked the dog. It chased cars and there was a accident when a driver swerved to miss the dog and hit a lava rock wall, French said. Then, a neighbor said her cat was killed by dogs and she thought the dog was part of it, he said.

French tried to get a rope or leash around the dog, but said it was too illusive and so he called animal control at the Kauai Humane Society.

“A lot of people thought that was my dog because it was always hanging around,” French said. 

Animal control could not catch it, French said. 

Later, he got a call that something unusual was going on with the dog. It was walking slowly in a neighbor’s driveway and was obviously sick, foaming at the mouth and throwing up.

“I called animal control and told them to come get the dog, it looks like someone poisoned him,” French said.

Two personnel arrived around two weeks ago but the dog still managed to get away. They left bait in a boar trap and asked French to leash it should the dog appear. Late that afternoon, French saw the dog in a neighbor’s backyard. It was convulsing and it appeared that someone had moved the motionless dog onto his yard.

“I called animal control,” he said. “This time I went out and lifted the dog’s head up and got some rope on him.”

The dog died. Animal control collected the trap and French said they agreed it appeared to be poisoned but it would be hard to prove.

“I haven’t heard anything more,” he said.

French said the dog looked healthy and had no visible signs of abuse. He suspected the skittishness came from being abused as a pup. He was upset by the apparent poisoning and wanted people to know there were other options for dealing with strays.

“But it was a happy dog and friendly,” he added. “I don’t know what could be done, but I would like for that person to know that they are not getting away with it anonymously — whoever did it.”

Penny Cistaro, Kauai Humane Society executive director, said the dog was potentially poisoned, as it was going through seizures and was in shock. Only a necropsy could tell if it was poison or a naturally occurring illness.

Intentionally killing an animal is a criminal offense, she said. If people are experiencing a problem with an animal,  they need to contact the Humane Society. It is best not to approach the animal but to go slow and see if it will approach you. Don’t chase or try to grab the dog, she said.

From July through December, KHS responded to more than 1,200 calls, including 250 calls for leash law violations, 34 injured animals and 28 for dead animals on the road.

“There are other solutions than poisoning an animal,” Cistaro said. “Always go through us. We are the professionals and we can help them.”

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