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Potential poisoning leaves Chilliwack dog owners devastated

Heartbroken Jo-Ann Mitischev spends time with her five year old German shepherd Belle, trying to cope with the loss of her other dog. Two year old Ben may have been poisoned Wednesday afternoon. - ERIC J. WELSH/ PROGRESS
Heartbroken Jo-Ann Mitischev spends time with her five year old German shepherd Belle, trying to cope with the loss of her other dog. Two year old Ben may have been poisoned Wednesday afternoon.
— image credit: ERIC J. WELSH/ PROGRESS

A little statue sits on the front step of Pete and Jo-Ann Mitischev's house on Mayfair Avenue.

A little German shepherd dog holds a welcome sign in its mouth, a signal to visitors that the Mitischevs are a pet-loving couple.

But it was an unwelcome visitor who paid the Mitischevs a visit Wednesday afternoon, shaking their faith in humanity. They believe one of their two beloved dogs, their 'fur-babies,' as Jo-Ann calls them, was poisoned by someone who threw two rawhide bones into their backyard.

While five year old Belle shied away from the bones, the younger of their dogs, two year old Ben, was more impetuous. He gnawed away at the possibly tainted bone, and was in very bad shape when Pete found him.

“He was in distress and not responsive at all,” Pete said. “It took me maybe 10-15 minutes just to get Ben's attention and get him up for a few minutes. Then he collapsed again. I did a tour of the backyard and found those two rawhide sticks.”

They phoned several veterinarians and rushed Ben to the Family Pet Hospital in Sardis.

Veterinarian Kulvinder Grewal ran tests for canine parvovirus, a contagious virus that can cause the symptoms that Ben had — bleeding from the nose, mouth and anus. The tests came back negative, leaving poison as the strongest of possibilities.

“The symptoms all pointed toward poisoning,” Jo-Ann said.

But Grewal stopped short of confirming that when he spoke to the Progress.

“It could be poison, but you never know and coming to that result isn't fair,” he said. “Without an autopsy there's no way to check inside the dog and confirm the cause. It was offered to the owners, but it's a very costly procedure.”

Ben was suffering and the likelihood of recovery was slim, so the Mitischevs chose to alleviate his pain.

Pete got on the phone soon after, calling the RCMP, Chilliwack Animal Control and the SPCA.

“The dogs are great with kids. We have grandkids who play with the dogs,” Pete said when asked if anyone could have had motivation to hurt the animals. “They go inside at night and according to Chilliwack Animal Control they've never had a complaint filed about our dogs. We've never had a complaint from any of our neighbors. I'm just devastated to think there are people out there who can do this kind of thing to animals.”

“There's some kind of sicko psycho-lunatic out there,” Jo-Ann added. “We had this lively dog who was left laying on a bed, lifeless.”

According to Pete, a file was opened and he heard back from RCMP Wednesday night.

He was told the case would be handed over or presented to Chilliwack Animal Control. But they say that because no bylaws were broken, there's nothing they can do about it.

“The SPCA said that if there was poisoning and there was cruelty to animals, that is something they can follow up,” Pete said. “But they don't have the resources to test the bones, and without any leads, where do they go? It would be nice if someone would take a look at those objects, test them for morphine or rat poison or whatever. Then you could alert more people.”

The Mitischevs did the only other thing they thought they could, posting their story on Facebook in the hopes that what happened to them doesn't happen to anyone else.

In the meantime, Pete is taking extra precautions to keep Belle from suffering the same fate.

But with an alley running behind his home and a fence that's only six feet high, there's only so much he can do.

“When I let her out in the morning, at 5 a.m., I'm going outside with her to make sure there's nothing in the back yard,” he said. “For peace of mind, I don't know how long I'm going to have to do that for. Belle doesn't want to be left alone. She had a partner and friend, and it's devastating for her. So right now, we're constantly thinking of the dog that passed away and the dog that's left alone. It's twice as hard.”

“Beware. Do a search of your yard,” Jo-Ann said. “If you see something that you don't give your dogs, get your gloves and throw it out. Don't take any chances.”

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