There is a cruel and heart-breaking epidemic happening in Samoa.
The epidemic is dog poisoning, which has long been a permanent, niggling stain upon Samoa’s portrayed friendly and happy-go-lucky image.
Even more sinister is that these dog poisonings are usually linked to subsequent breaking, entering and theft.
For far too long we have accepted that owning pet dogs comes with the likelihood that eventually the inevitable will happen… “man’s best friend”, our trusty guards and loyal family members will be poisoned.
We need to loudly voice our outrage and opposition to this epidemic, and treat it as one because it is.
This week our family lost two of its members - our dogs, Cuba and Sasha, were poisoned with what the vet suspected was weedkiller.
While we were at the vet attempting to save Sasha, who survived Cuba by a couple days, we met a family friend of ours who was doing the exact same for her two dogs.
This family friend told us that her next door neighbour had her dogs poisoned last week too. This was the same time we were burying our Aunty’s dog, Bailey, who was poisoned to death also.
We all reside in Vaoala. I also want to point out, just for clarity’s sake, our dogs and the others were all within their owner’s properties and enclosed by fences /gates. I.e. on private property. So someone or some persons deliberately placed poisonous food on each of our properties.
One of the dutiful vets at the Animal Protection Society told me that at least once a week a poisoned dog would be brought in. Another vet told us, after we had Sasha euthanised, that he just euthanised another poisoned dog from Vaitele.
What does all this mean?
That within the last fortnight someone, or a group of people, has poisoned over half a dozen dogs. And that’s just the dogs we know of, I am certain there are several more that we have not heard of. This also tells us that, while this is definitely happening in the Vaoala area, the epidemic appears to be widespread in Samoa and heartbreakingly much too frequent.
We need to call this activity out as exactly what it is - cruel and criminal. We need to do better because our animals deserve better.
Let’s aim to deter dog poisoning by giving it the exposure it requires.
Let’s warn other pet owners and urge and support our appropriate authorities and national leaders in investigating dog poisonings, and reporting on its depth and breadth.
My final words on the matter are to keep an eye out for our dogs and to keep this conversation going so that dog poisoning quickly comes to an end.
Please report any suspicious activity or behaviour to the Police, so that this epidemic is raised as a matter of public importance.
Cory Ulalei Van Heeswyk
Editor’s note: Thank you for your letter Cory. We express our deepest sympathies for the loss of your dogs and to everyone who is experiencing the same pain. As an animal lover, I know the feeling. A couple of years back, someone poisoned my two dogs inside my compound. It still hurts today. From our end, we promise to continue to beat the drum to bring an end to this criminal activity. It is why we are highlighting this issue on the front page today to bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities and to warn everyone else. God bless!