Stefan Hard Staff Photo
Terry Gray sits Monday with her Australian shepherd dog, Max, outside her Northfield home. Gray’s other “Aussie,” Emmy, was apparently poisoned over the weekend with a mixture of hot dogs and antifreeze near their house. Police are investigating.NORTHFIELD — A dog is dead, its owners are incensed, police are investigating, and their best evidence may be a two-liter soda bottle with its side carved open and filled with chopped up hot dogs floating in a greenish liquid.
Though no tests have yet been conducted, Terry Gray said she suspects the liquid is antifreeze and was used to bait and poison one of her three dogs — an eight-year-old Australian shepherd named “Emmy” — late last week.
Emmy is now dead, according to Gray, who said the earliest signs that something might be amiss were far from alarming. The dog spit up its food Thursday morning and wasn’t acting quite like herself later that night. At 3 a.m., a seizure got Gray’s attention for good, and while she thought it might be epilepsy, a second seizure less than three hours later prompted her to immediately load Emmy into the car Friday morning and drive to the Berlin Veterinary Clinic in Montpelier.
According to Gray, Emmy was still alive, but it was already too late.
A speedy diagnosis confirmed antifreeze poisoning, and while Emmy was treated with alcohol, the antidote didn’t work, and Gray said she and her husband, Randy, agreed to have their pet put to sleep when confronted with the fact that the dog’s kidneys had failed and it would not recover.
“We didn’t have a choice,” said Gray, whose concern gave way to grief in the span of 12 and a half hours on Friday.
Now Gray says she is just plain angry, because after spending Saturday with her husband combing the 5 acres they own off Route 12A for the source of the antifreeze in order to assure the safety of their other two dogs, she believes they discovered it just across their property line.
Gray isn’t pointing fingers, but she did call police because she doesn’t think what happened was an accident.
“It was intentionally left for them,” she said of the soda bottle contraption police are treating as evidence in what they described Monday as an “active investigation.”
Officer Dan Withrow said he had been in contact with the state police crime lab and the state Health Department in hopes of testing some of the hot dog mixture to determine whether the liquid substance is antifreeze, as Gray suspects.
If it is, Withrow said the person responsible could be charged with cruelty to animals — a misdemeanor — or aggravated cruelty to animals — a felony. He said that decision would ultimately be made by the county prosecutor, if an arrest is made.
“It’s still early in the investigation,” he stressed.
Although Gray said her 16-year-old Sheltie doesn’t ever stray from the house, Emmy and her other Australian Shepherd occasionally do — a fact that prompted Saturday’s thorough search — one that started in her garage, covered several acres, and ended when she spotted the soda bottle containing bits of hot dogs submerged in what appeared to be antifreeze.
“As hard as it is to lose one (dog), I could just as easily have lost two,” she said.
Gray said she has read about people using hot dogs laced with antifreeze to poison dogs in the Boston area, but was stunned someone would go to such lengths in a rural Vermont town.
“I never expected it in my back yard in Northfield,” she said. “It’s a very painful and cruel death for someone to (inflict on) an innocent animal.”
Gray said the suspicious death of her dog occurred less than a week after someone complained about her dogs roaming loose to Northfield police — a first, she claimed.
“We’ve lived here on this property, in this home for 26 years and we’ve never had problems with neighbors,” she said.
According to Gray, police would not say who complained at the time and she could not reach out and attempt to address the problem.
“That’s the proper approach,” she said. “You don’t need to kill my animal.”
Gray said she was hopeful police would get a useful fingerprint off the soda bottle and was looking in to having a sample of the hot dog concoction tested by an independent laboratory in hopes of expediting the investigation.
“We lost part of our family,” she said. “Something needs to be done about that.”
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