Posting to a local Facebook group, a concerned pet owner shared a photo of the note, which cautioned locals about poison found in raw chicken at the park. "Please be careful and keep an eye on your dogs," the woman advised the group.
Equally appalled group members expressed their disgust over the practice, which was also seen earlier this year in the nearby suburb of Bondi. "Need to catch these disgusting humans," one local resident responded in outrage.
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for Randwick City Council said they were notified about the warning sign at Paine Reserve on Monday and confirmed that baiting has occurred in the area. "Rangers inspected the park and spoke with dog owners who reported nothing suspicious," they said. "Unfortunately, deliberate and accidental dog baiting does occur from time to time in our area."
The spokesperson added that this is an issue the council doesn't take lightly. "Intentional dog baiting is a disturbing and criminal behaviour that we take very seriously. We strongly encourage dog owners to be mindful when walking their dogs and to keep them on leash unless in a dedicated off-leash dog park. Even when in an off-leash area, owners should be vigilant in supervising their dogs and report any suspicious food left out to council rangers and police," the spokesperson said.
In September last year, warnings were issued after at least one dog died from suspected baiting in Sydney's east, prompting a probe from Waverley Council. In February, Sydneysiders were urged to be on alert after reports of fatal dog baiting incidents at another park in the Eastern Suburbs.
Melburnians were also issued a warning after a dog passed away and two others fell ill from suspected baiting incidents in January.
Baiting symptoms to watch for
Dog baits usually come in different forms, but can either be a neurotoxin such as snail baits and 1080, or anticoagulants such as rat baits. These are often wrapped in food to hide the smell and taste of the poison.
Neurotoxins start working as soon as they are absorbed, which could be as little as 20 minutes after ingestion, while anticoagulants take three days to start causing bleeding.
Behavioural changes like anxiousness, restlessness and panting are usually the first symptoms of ingestion, which may progress to muscle twitches and tremors, and eventually seizures. However 1080, which is usually used to control agriculture and environmental pests, is highly toxic to dogs and causes a rapid onset of seizures.
Dog owners are urged to contact their nearest vet immediately if they suspect their pet has been poisoned, and not wait until they exhibit symptoms, the RSPCA says.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.