Mass puppy death at rescue shelter sparks poison fears
A DOG rescue group has shut down after seven puppies at the property died from liver failure under suspicious circumstances.
The founders of the Willowbank rescue are devastated, believing someone targeted their home and intentionally poisoned the pups.
A police investigation has been launched and the puppies' bodies will be sent for autopsy.
Mother-of-two Ruth Christodoulou and her best friend Rebecca Young started Waggy Tails Dog Rescue Queensland about four months ago.
The pair said there were no more than seven dogs on the property at any one time and neighbours had been supportive of the rescue.
On Thursday Ruth's pet, Angel, began suffering tremors.
Knowing something was wrong, Ruth rushed Angel to the vet. At first vets suspected she had eaten berries from a plant in the yard.
The next day the plants were cleared from the yard and Angel, who was too sick to be treated, was put to sleep.
On Saturday morning, when Ruth and Rebecca returned from picking up two dogs from a rural pound, they found six of the remaining puppies showing similar signs of illness.
One by one, the dogs have been euthanased, with the last put to sleep yesterday afternoon.
The dogs' livers had failed.
The puppies that had to be put down
A 13-week-old puppy named Pip is the only survivor.
"We are shattered," Ruth said. "What made it worse was two puppies had already been adopted and one was here on holiday while her family was on a cruise.
"Having to tell the owners what happened was heartbreaking. We only started this because we wanted to help these dogs.
"When Pip came here from Dalby she was filthy and full of fleas."
Ruth had to explain to her two seven-year-old sons - one of which has Downs Syndrome - that the dogs weren't coming back.
Until further tests can be conducted, Ruth won't know what killed her dogs, but she firmly believes someone intentionally poisoned them.
"To the person who did this; if you have an issue with us in any way at all, you should have taken it up with us and not victimised the animals. They were innocent. There was no need for this heartless behaviour. You've won. You beat us. We're broken."
Supporters have already helped cover the $6000 vet bill but if you would like to help, contact Ruth via the Waggy Tails Dog Rescue Qld Facebook Page.
Note: The dogs' food had not changed and there is no suspicion their daily regular diet was involved in the incident. Some brands of pet food have been recalled as they have been linked to severe illness.