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Poisoned dogs may have been ‘stoned’ on cannabis on Hampstead Heath

Samba, one of the poor dogs who has been affected by the mystery intoxication. Picture: Village Vet London/Facebook Samba, one of the poor dogs who has been affected by the mystery intoxication. Picture: Village Vet London/Facebook

Thursday, April 17, 2014
6:00 AM

Drugs dumped on Hampstead Heath are thought to have poisoned five dogs that were rushed to a veterinary practice for life-saving treatment after apparently becoming ‘stoned’.

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Head vet Sean McInnes and Adam Mugford, who is head of emergency and critical care and led the treatment of the animals, at Village Vet. Picture: Nigel SuttonHead vet Sean McInnes and Adam Mugford, who is head of emergency and critical care and led the treatment of the animals, at Village Vet. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The dogs all slipped into a drugged-like stupor after being let off the lead in the Sandy Heath area by a professional dog walker.

They were taken to the Village Vet in Belsize Park where the three most “intoxicated” animals were given emergency medication to stop their conditions worsening and potentially turning fatal.

Their heart rates and blood pressure had plummeted to dangerous levels as they showed symptoms that the vets immediately suspected were triggered by cannabis.

However, the practice has now sent blood samples to experts in the US to try to identify the mystery toxin, after basic testing did not show up THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

Sean McInnes, head vet at the practice in Belsize Terrace, said: “They looked completely inebriated. Three of them were extremely quiet, withdrawn and lethargic, almost what we call ‘stuporous’.

“To all intents and purposes it was like they had consumed some sort of recreational drug.”

Mr McInnes, a partner in the practice, said the pets began to show symptoms shortly after arriving in Sandy Heath, the area between Wildwood Road and Spaniards Road on the Heath, on Tuesday of last week.

He added: “With blood pressure and heart rates that low, if you don’t treat them, they can start to get organ dysfunctions.

“If they had not been treated, it is very likely they could have developed renal failure and potentially a degree of swelling of the brain. It could be fatal.”

The dogs have now recovered and been returned to their owners.

Officers from the Hampstead Heath Constabulary combed Sandy Heath for toxic substances but found nothing.

The City of London Corporation, which runs the Heath, said: “We are investigating reports on this serious matter. No source of poisoning has been found on Hampstead Heath.

“Until we have information to act on, we ask that all dog walkers remain vigilant and report anything untoward immediately to the Heath Constabulary on 020 8340 5260.”

The news comes after pet owners in Brent were rocked by the deaths of three dogs that ate chicken laced with rat poison in March. Police believe the meat was poisoned deliberately.

Hampstead Heath dog walkers took to social networks to spread warnings, with many concerned that the animals had succumbed to a similar malicious poisoning.

Others feared pesticides were to blame.

But Mr McInnes said the symptoms were inconsistent with these theories.

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