- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) - Fourteen stock and guard dogs in southwestern Idaho have been poisoned and 12 have died as a result of the same type of chemical.

The Canyon County dogs have all been sickened by strychnine, which is often used to kill gophers and other rodents. The most recent dog died Monday, adding to the string of deaths that started in early April, The Capital Press reported (http://bit.ly/25zqIjL ).

“We lost another dog today. The poisoning is still going on,” said the dogs’ owner, Casey Echevarria.

Dr. Brent Varriale, a Fruitland veterinarian who examined three of the dogs said they all had green dyed grain in their stomachs, which appeared to be gopher bait that contained strychnine. The vet says it is likely the poisonings were intentional.

All of the dogs were used to guard and shepherd sheep and goats.

Varriale said the large number of Echevarria’s dogs that have been affected combined with the large amount of bait in their stomachs suggests the poisoning was intentional. He saved stomach-content samples from each dog and contacted the Canyon County Sheriff’s Department, which has yet to identify any suspects.

“They may not catch the person that did it, but I hope it at least … prevents it from continuing,” Varriale said of the reason he contacted law enforcement. “It’s a terrible way to die.”

Echevarria said each dog cost between $1,500 and $2,500, but that he is more concerned about the dogs’ suffering than the loss of money.

“The way they’ve done it is more cruel than shooting them with a gun,” he said. “I don’t want publicity for me. It’s more about getting the word out there so it doesn’t happen to (any more) dogs.”

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Information from: The Capital Press (Ore.), http://www.capitalpress.com/washington

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