Poisoned Meatballs at Race in France Kills Three Dogs

Over the weekend, three dogs passed away after consuming poisoned meatballs during a cross-country race for canines in southern France. Following the incident, local authorities launched an investigation. 

The national canicross championships held on Sunday consisted of a 2.7-kilometer race where participants compete alongside their dogs by running, cycling, or riding scooters for a chance to win prizes such as dog food and medals.

A veterinarian present at the canine cross-country race in southern France reported that within minutes of arriving at the parking lot near the race’s starting point, one dog began vomiting and trembling, followed by two other dogs exhibiting similar poisoning symptoms. Tragically, all three dogs died within 15 minutes of exhibiting these symptoms.

The veterinarian, Bérengère Poletti, who works for the Federation of Canine Sports and Leisure, the group that organized the championship in the town of Vauvert, described the dogs’ symptoms as suffocation with foam and expressed her horror at the incident. She added that she did not know who was responsible for the poisoning and what their motives might have been.

The organizers of the canine cross-country race canceled the event immediately after discovering that over 50 meatballs had been scattered around the parking lot and on the side of the road, each containing dark seeds that caused the poisoning. The veterinarian who was present at the event said that a husky named Togo also displayed symptoms of poisoning after sniffing the vomit of one of the three deceased dogs but was treated at a veterinary clinic and was expected to recover.

According to Dr. Poletti, the prosecutor’s office in Nîmes began an investigation on Sunday to determine the cause of the poisoning incident. She added that there were no prior threats made to the dogs before the event. The dogs that passed away were supposed to run alongside their owners who were cycling.

The French law states that abuse or cruelty towards a domestic animal is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (approximately $79,000), according to Cécile Gensac, the public prosecutor of Nîmes, who released a statement on Monday.

Yvon Lasbleiz, the president of the International Canicross Federation, made a statement on Monday expressing his condolences to the owners of the three dogs who died at the French Championship. He mentioned that Oslo, Palma, and Opale, two German Shorthaired Pointers and a Belgian Shepherd, had been sources of unconditional love for their owners. He described the act as “particularly heinous” and affecting not only the sport but also the whole community.

Dr. Poletti stated on Thursday that the fourth dog, Togo, was recovering and doing well. She expressed happiness and joy at seeing him looking like a normal, happy dog again and shed tears of joy at his improvement.

According to Dr. Poletti, laboratory tests are being performed on the meatballs to identify the type of poison used. However, the veterinarians who were present at the scene suspected that slug repellent might have been used. The levels of toxicity in the meatballs were so high that even if the dogs were taken to a clinic, the veterinarians would not have been able to save them, she added.

Canicross is a sport in which runners or cyclists attach their dogs to themselves with belts or harnesses via a bungee cord, allowing the dogs to pull them forward while also wearing their own harnesses. Canicross enthusiasts report that it is a good way to stay fit and can help reduce anxiety in dogs. The activity is especially popular in continental Europe and has gained popularity in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. Canicross UK, which provides canicross training sessions, was founded by Calvin Mudd.

After the tragic event at the canicross race in France, messages of condolences from other canicross organizations have been sent to France. The Italian canicross federation expressed solidarity with the Federation of Canine Sports and Leisure in a letter, calling the incident an act of terror that has shaken the dog sports community and dog lovers worldwide.

Read More: @nytimes

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