The chemical weapon within paw’s reach

Imagine your child, niece or nephew, wrapped in your arms, frothing at the mouth, fitting convulsively.

They can’t tell you what’s wrong – the fit has come from next to nowhere, and all you can do is hold them tight as you frantically seek help.

But, before you can get that help, they are gone; completely consumed by whatever invisible poison or disease has affected them.

Horrible, isn’t it?

For a pet owner, such an occurrence is just as terrifying.

But imagine having that happen not once, not even twice, but three times.

To lose a “fur baby” in such a fashion is almost unimaginable for anyone who hasn’t witnessed the trauma and heartache firsthand.

And it’s not just adults who are exposed to such horrific scenes; I personally know of an eight-year-old boy who held his beloved dog – writhing, screaming and frothing at the mouth – as his mother raced the gauntlet of time to the vet.

They were too late. This dear pet was also gone before the vet got a look at her.

Sodium fluoroacetate: you probably haven’t heard of it.

Maybe 1080 rings a bell?

It’s the poison used to control foxes, wild dogs and rabbits. There’s no known antidote.

Sodium fluoroacetate has also been regarded by the USA as a potential weapon of mass destruction, and is believed to have been used in past chemical warfare – 1080 was found in Iraq during the search for Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons.

1080 is banned in many countries – Australia is one of six where it is still available, albeit under strict supervision.

Unfortunately, despite the many regulations and restrictions associated with its use, secondary poisoning is all too common.

Properly laid baits can be carried by animals into areas they would not otherwise be allowed.

It’s all too easy for a bird to drop a bait in the backyard of an unknowing pet owner – and hence, the potential for subsequent, untargeted poisoning to occur.

You would hope no one would knowingly throw a 1080 bait into someone’s backyard, but unfortunately, not everyone has a full faculty of empathy and common sense.

What is perhaps most terrifying, however, is the potential for a small child to pick up one of these baits.

One can only shudder at the potential consequences.

It begs the question, is it time 1080 usage guidelines were revised?