Melbourne dog dies, others fall ill from 'suspected baiting'

A council has issued a warning to residents after an increase in reports of suspected dog baiting.

A Melbourne community is on high alert after a young Chihuahua died and another two dogs fell ill in suspected baiting incidents.

Residents living in the Stonnington area, which is comprised of the city’s inner southeastern suburbs, are being urged to be careful when walking their pets after a series of reports about possibly poisonous food discovered in the past fortnight. Locals have identified Armadale, Como Park, Fawkner Park, Prahran Square, Phoenix Square as potential areas of concern.

Stonnington Community Noticeboard founder Brendan Corr told Yahoo News Australia he has heard of three reports of dog baiting since December 28, but has only been able to verify the death of a 1.8kg brown Chihuahua named Bambi. At least two others have allegedly required urgent vet treatment.

Rose Van Bakel with her Chihuahua Bambi, who died after a suspected dog baiting incident in Stonnington
Rose Van Bakel's Chihuahua Bambi died after a suspected dog baiting incident in Melbourne's Stonnington area. Source: Instagram/Rose Van Bakel

In response to the community’s growing fears, the Stonnington City Council has placed warning signs at numerous local parks popular with dog owners.

“It's come to our attention local social media groups are discussing suspected dog baits in some South Yarra, Windsor and Prahran parks,” the council posted on Facebook alongside an image of one of its posters on Wednesday.

“Although we haven't received any reports this is a timely reminder to always keep a close eye on your dog and don't let them eat anything on the ground. If you are worried your dog has eaten something suspicious contact your vet immediately, or if you suspect baiting please contact us or VicPol.”

Woman’s heartbreak after dog’s death

Rose Van Bakel told Yahoo News Australia she is “totally heartbroken” over the sudden loss of her beloved Bambi, who she said suffered horrifically before dying in her arms last week — just days away from his fourth birthday.

She described the three-year-old as a “timid and lovely natured Chihuahua”. “He was always scared, and he trusted me to protect him, and I’m carrying this heavy load, because I couldn’t protect him for the split-second he put something in his mouth,” she said.

View of the Baker IDI building from the Fawkner park. Source: AAP
Locals have identified Armadale, Como Park, Fawkner Park, Prahran Square, Phoenix Square as potential areas of concern. Source: AAP

In an interview with ABC earlier this week, Ms Van Bakel described the tragic moment Bambi picked up a “colourful” piece of bread on the side of a road in Armadale during a 10-minute walk on December 28.

Despite “pulling it out of his mouth” as quickly as she could, she claimed just minutes later Bambi began “frothing at the mouth”. Ms Van Bakel said she rushed the Chihuahua to one vet, where he was given an IV drip and released after they deemed him “fine”.

Bambi still appeared to be “extremely distressed”, so she then drove him to another animal hospital, but he suffered a cluster of seizures on the way. “He had a stroke and ended up blind and deaf within minutes,” she told the ABC. “He no longer knew who I was by the time I reached the vet.”

Bambi spent four days receiving treatment — costing $9,000 — before tragically taking his last breath. While Ms Van Bakel said vets were unsure what made her dog so sick, she is adamant he was “poisoned”.

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Council responds to reports of dog baiting

The City of Stonnington told Yahoo News Australia it “takes all reports of suspected baits seriously and rigorously tests any suspicious matter collected in its parks and reserves”.

“While actual cases of dog baiting are very rare, the City of Stonnington encourages dog owners to be vigilant in ensuring dogs do not ingest any foreign material while they are being walked,” it said in a statement. Yahoo News Australia has contacted Victoria Police for comment.

Mr Corr, a Stonnington local who lost a dog to baiting when he was a teen, said he is not just concerned for people’s pets but also for young children who also frequent the same areas. While there has been an alleged increase in incidents recently, Mr Corr said the problem has been plaguing the area “for 12 months on-and-off”. He is urging everyone in the area to remain vigilant and alert council and police to any suspected incidents.

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