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Woman's dog dies after being 'poisoned' in her own backyard

Lana Cavanagh says she was forced to put down her three-year-old pet Staffy named Cortana last month.

A frightened woman is urging people to be on alert after she claims her beloved dog was poisoned by a stranger in her own backyard.

Heartbroken Lana Cavanagh says her Staffy named Cortana, who she shared with her sister, died in early March after suddenly falling ill at their Mandurah home in Western Australia. She told Yahoo News Australia she first noticed her three-year-old pet “was acting a little bit funny” when she wasn’t interested in eating her dinner — despite it containing some roast left overs.

“She loved her food so that was abnormal,” Ms Cavanagh recalled, adding that Cortana was not her usual hyper self. “I noticed her not wanting to integrate with me or my partner.”

Cortana the Staffy dog on her bed.
Lana Cavanagh says her dog Cortana died in early March after suddenly falling ill at their Mandurah home in WA. Source: Supplied

After watching her throughout the night, she was forced to rush the Staffy to a vet about 30 minutes away, where the pair waited for hours as they drew blood and treated the dog with anti-nausea medication.

“The first vet didn’t check for poisoning because it didn’t look like it at first. She wasn’t frothing at the mouth,” Ms Cavanagh, who was also told to administer antibiotics, said. However, not long after leaving Cortana “went downhill fast”.

“I went to work and two hours later my sister and partner called me to come home. I rushed her to the emergency vet and they did another toxin scan and found poison in her blood stream,” she said, claiming this time she was told the three-year-old dog had a “very high” white blood cell count, causing her liver to fail.

Woman forced to put pet dog down

Ms Cavanagh told Yahoo she was informed a handful of Panadol could cause the same symptoms, but she is adamant such items are “locked up” at her home because she lives with her four-year-old niece.

However, she does claim there was one detail that appeared out of place in her backyard after Cortana’s death — two empty pie wrappers nestled in the grass that no one living at the property could account for.

“Just as simple as they put it in a pie and through it over my fence,” she said, adding that she believes the incident is linked to a previous event. “Five days prior to her dying, someone tried to take her from my backyard and she managed to slip her head out of the collar — they were trying to drag her over the fence,” she recalled.

A fence in a backyard and Cortana the dog on her bed.
Lana Cavanagh believes someone poisoned Cortana by throwing meat pies over her fence. Source: Getty/Supplied

Despite having CCTV at her home, Ms Cavanagh claimed the offender appeared to have found a “way to get into the backyard without being seen by the security cameras”. Unable to pay thousands of dollars for treatment, which Ms Cavanagh said she was told might not work, the family made the devastating decision to have Cortana put down.

Concerned for other pets in the area, she posted a photo of her dog on a local Facebook group to warn owners. “Please be careful out there with your fur babies as there are horrible people out there,” she said.

RSPCA WA responds to dog 'poisoning'

A spokesperson for RSPCA WA confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that they had received a report about Cortana’s death, “which was investigated”.

“While the owner did report some suspicious activity involving the dog’s collar being removed and a pastry wrapper found in the yard, there was no CCTV footage available and no person of interest identified,” they said. “RSPCA WA conducted a letterbox drop of neighbours to warn of a potential dog poisoning in the area, and to call for any information.”

The spokesperson added that the organisation has not received any other reports of suspected dog poisonings in the area recently, and that while “high liver enzymes may be an indication of poisoning”, they can also “be the result of illnesses, for example pancreatitis.”

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