Raven Does it Again

Raven relaxing in happier days, on our trip east last fall.

Raven relaxing in happier days, on our trip east last fall.

My beautiful girl lay tranquilized in a cage all day, with an IV drip of vitamin K in her slender leg. Two nights ago she threw up her undigested dinner about nine pm. Every half hour through the rest of the night she threw up. Neither of us got any sleep. It wasn’t until around midnight when she started trembling that I realized something was really wrong.

We left before dark for the holistic vet an hour away as neither local vet was available. She felt better, and had stopped vomiting. The doctor gave her an anti-emetic shot and some follow up pills, and a custom homeopathic remedy. Her gums were pinker than usual, suggesting inflammation. Or, it turns out, maybe internal bleeding. We came home and straggled up to bed to nap.

On the way in I noticed that one of her vomit stains in the snow was a peculiar blue-green color with tiny particulates, which I hadn’t observed in the dark. Maybe she got into someone’s compost, I thought. When I woke up that afternoon and looked at it again, I remembered the vet’s question, What color was the vomit? All that I had seen inside and near the porch light had been vomit beige. So I emailed a photo to that vet and Doc down the road.


Bar bait, said Christy. What? You mean … bear bait? I had never heard of bar bait. Rat poison. It causes whomever eats it to bleed out from inside. Doc said bring her in first thing for the IV. While she lay there, I looked online and found some images of the poison with boasts like this pitch: rats and mice can consume a lethal dose in single night of feeding.”

Single-dose deadly rat poison comes in several shapes and colors, including these.

Single-dose deadly rat poison comes in several shapes and colors, including these.


That particular poison, bromadialone, is in a class of potent anticoagulants that “block the synthesis of vitamin K, an essential component for normal blood clotting, which results in spontaneous and uncontrolled bleeding.” I also learned that it can take several days for symptoms to show up, and that the poison lasts a month in a dog’s body. So she’s on Vitamin K pills for the next month.

Where did Raven get hold of that? I called all the neighbors with contiguous property, eight households in all, and all said they have not and do not use rat poison. Half of them have dogs themselves. Maybe she found a carcass of some rodent or other so-called pest, perhaps a raccoon, that had eaten the poison elsewhere and died nearby. Some day that mouth of hers is going to get her killed, I’m about resigned to that. She dodged the bowel obstruction bullet just a year ago, and now this.

She wouldn’t be the first animal to suffer the consequences of secondary ingestion; she’d be in the company of thousands, maybe millions of small and large predators, and an astonishing number of songbirds, deer, and other non-predators. Worldwide, owls, eagles, mountain lions and other wild animals are dying from these “second-generation” super-potent rodenticides. A complicated picture has emerged in the past decade of studies, another EPA v. multinational corporations struggle where what is right and good for the planet gets ignored in the interest of the almighty dollar. These powerful poisons, inspired by warfarin (diluted in pharmacology to the common blood-thinner Coumadin) now appear to be showing up in trace (but still toxic) amounts throughout the food web. One more way in which we continue to poison our planet, decade after decade, despite knowing better.

I was trying hard to welcome the new year with a positive, optimistic spirit. I had all kinds of inspiring resolutions, including to learn something new every day. What I’ve learned today just reinforces my curmudgeonly favorite phrase: Other people ruin everything.

7 thoughts on “Raven Does it Again

  1. Horrifying points about the poisons. Add this to DuPont teflon chemical in the water story of the day, the Volkswagon outrage, the gas leak in southern ca situation and probably a zillion more examples of crimes against nature brought on by greed, negligence and stupidity.

    • Hi Bobbie, Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you enjoy the blog, and thank you for your concern about my girl. Raven is so far so good today. Because the poison can last in a dog’s body for a month, it’s wait and see for another 28 days. But she’s eating well, a little subdued, but no signs of any blood, so that’s good news!

  2. Dearest Rita-Bones-

    I am praying that our Raven girl is okay. I read every word of the painful event with “heart-in-throat” days ago. This is extra painful, since I fought a long battle in my own community to cease the use of this very poison year ago. It seemed that chipmunks and squirrels were vanishing from our condo community and when a falcon was found dead by county park rangers , an autopsy proved poisoning due to a consumed rodent that had ingested the poison. We began a campaign to rid the neighborhood of these lethal poisons that violate the ground water. (Remember Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring” back in the day? It is all coming home to truth now.).
    So now we have squirrels again, but poisons are everywhere. When we walk our cockapoo, Banjo- I Clean her paws after she walks on grass- just in case it’s been treated with chemicals!
    The greater question- even for those without pets or small children: how long can the madness persist? All that befalls the earth befalls each of us, eventually. Our ground water carries all that we put into it. Everything bad eventually trickles down to run-off. This effects all of us in one way or another.
    Raise consciousness. Raise awareness. Be the truth you wish to see. I pray for peace and helping for the people of our world. Eliminate poisons that are unnecessary and hurtful to our Earth!

    • Thank you, dear. Raven seems back to normal after almost a week of not feeling so great. She’s still on vitamin K pills for another few weeks. Stellar has showed no signs of consuming the same thing, so I think he’s out of the woods. You are so right about the madness of poisoning our precious earth. This is why it is so important who we elect as the leader of our country. He or she may not be able to do or fix everything, but there are definite tendencies that characterize the two leading political parties. One seems to be “greed regardless of cost”, and the other “scrambling to hold onto some semblance of sanity in the way we approach the planet.” I’ve thought a lot about our conversation in DC regarding what difference it makes, and the way things have escalated just in the past month I feel it matters even more whom we support.

  3. This poison scares me, it is planned to use it over a large area in Nelson New Zealand to kill out the pests killing out indigenous animals and birds. This is part of a long term project that has seen the area fenced in to stop entry for the pests, the aerial application of poison is to kill those remaining within the perimeter fence. I know the decision has not been made lightly but I still get a really bad feeling about it. I do hope Raven continues to improve.

    • Well, there go my plans to move to New Zealand! I’m kidding, but it’s no joking matter. I appreciate your comment and your concern for the animals. How will they control what animals it kills?? I’m sure this is one aspect you’re worried about. Fencing wildlife doesn’t necessarily work all that well either. Thank you for letting us know about that plan, and thanks for the well wishes for Raven. So far so good.

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