Days after cattle dog, Max, was put to sleep, his family blamed themselves. After they found out the same thing happened to several other dogs in the Sunshine Coast area, they became angry.
Buddina local, Tara, said Max was like a 30kg lap dog, who was so affectionate and full of energy. His death has devastated her family.
On July 31 and August 1, Tara took Max for a walk along Buddina Beach in the area that allows dogs to run free and he seemed fine.
On August 2, Tara's dad took Max for a walk. He ran free on the beach and on the way back home he had a drink from the water bowl at the beach.
That night, Max became ill and started vomiting. The following morning he was lethargic, so Tara took him to the vet first thing on Wednesday morning.
Max stayed at the vet overnight and staff eventually told Tara's family on Thursday they weren't sure how long the two-and-a-half-year-old dog would hold on for.
Tara told Yahoo News Australia making the decision to put Max to sleep was extremely hard for her family.
In the days after Max's passing, Tara and her family spent days retracing their steps and overthinking — wondering if they could have done something different.
"We were just blaming ourselves trying to go through what we could have done better," Tara said.
"Now I think it's just even more devastating, finding out that it could potentially have been someone who has done this to like Max and so many other dogs."
'Never wish this on your worst enemy'
Yesterday, vets and Sunshine Coast locals warned against walking dogs at the beaches, after at least five dogs died due to suspected poisoning.
All had been to beaches around Buddina, Kawana, Point Cartwright and La Balsa in the days leading up to their deaths.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for RSPCA Queensland confirmed inspectors are investigating the reports and Queensland Police are also involved, as are local vets.
"Anyone who suspects their dog may have ingested something toxic are encouraged to seek immediate veterinary treatment," the spokesperson said.
News of the deaths spread quickly on social media — many suspecting the dogs may have been intentionally poisoned, though this is yet to be confirmed.
Tara agrees the recent dog deaths and their links to the beaches are too much of a coincidence and while she is glad the public is aware and alert, the news has made dealing with Max's death so much harder.
"It just makes me like so mad now because if it was someone who's doing this, they obviously have never had a dog," she said.
"Because you would never wish this feeling on your worst enemy."
She said for a few years now there were people within the tight-knit Buddina community who were opposed to dogs being on the beach.
However, she struggles to believe someone from the area where she had grown up could be so cruel.
Council empties dog bowls at beaches
In their initial Facebook post, North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre said the dogs that had come to the clinic all had symptoms that suggested they had ingested something toxic.
The Sunshine Coast Council confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that it is also investigating the situation alongside the RSPCA and the police.
"Sunshine Coast Council expresses our condolences to our community members who have lost their beloved pet as a result of the suspected poisonings at Point Cartwright and Buddina," the spokesperson said.
The exact cause of the poisonings remains unclear, however as a precaution the council has taken steps to reduce the risk of pets drinking contaminated water.
All dog water bowls in the area have been emptied and sanitised, the spokesperson confirmed.
"We are also working to remove any loose water bowls and seal any fixed bowls to prevent access," they added.
The spokesperson also confirmed the council has not recently sprayed any pesticides in the area.
The Sunshine Coast community has shared the news about the dogs on social media to make sure everyone is aware.
Tara said on Wednesday morning she knew of people going down to the beach and alerting dog owners and putting up flyers.
Symptoms dog owners need to watch for
North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre urged people to look out for gastrointestinal upsets, lethargy, or any change to their pet's behaviour.
People should contact their vet immediately if their pet displays any of these symptoms.
Sunshine Coast Council also advises people keep their dogs in their sight at all times while in off-leash areas at the beach and make sure they are responsive to voice commands.
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