‘Horrific’ – How 1080 Poisoning Leaves Animal Guardians Feeling Powerless

Posted on by Dan H

In Australia, 1080 baits are still being used to kill “pest” species, such as foxes, rabbits, wallabies, cats, feral pigs, and wild dogs. The poison is colourless, odourless, and tasteless, and food baited with 1080 is easily ingested by companion animals, like dogs, as well as by native species. Its victims – intended or otherwise – experience a slow, agonising death.

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New research from Deakin University reveals the traumatic and life-altering consequences families face when one of their animal companions accidentally ingests a 1080 bait.

In interviews, human guardians described the death of their loved one from 1080 as one of the most horrific experiences of their lives. Symptoms include vomiting, anxiety, disorientation, and shaking. These quickly develop into frenzied behaviour with running and screaming fits, drooling, uncontrolled paddling, and seizures, followed by total collapse and death. This agony may go on for up to 48 hours.

Interviewees describe how the dogs seemed terrified and how they felt completely powerless in the face of extended suffering. “He was just running away from pain,” one guardian said. “He was running that fast and he obviously had no control over what his body was doing, he just hit the fence at full speed, it dropped him to the ground and he’s on the ground snarling and biting and whatnot, at himself, at me, anyone who tried to get near.”

The experience with 1080 changed these people’s relationships and attitudes to dogs, wildlife, nature, and government authorities. Those impacted reported being anxious and hypervigilant for signs of 1080 poisoning in other dogs. Some could no longer visit locations where the poisoning occurred, and many wanted to save other animals from suffering as their dog did. The researchers found that each participant, after watching their animal companion die, now believes that no animals, even “pests”, should be exposed to 1080 poison.

How to Help

Councils will often place signs in the area to notify residents when the poison is being used. Local media may also report that 1080 is being used locally. If you discover that your council is using 1080, please speak out. Urge it to concentrate its resources on nonlethal methods rather than poisons.

If you know that 1080 is being used in your local area, it’s best to walk your dog in an alternative location.

And if you notice any of the symptoms of 1080 poisoning in your animal companion, seek medical attention immediately.