Island resident upset after dog gets sick from cannabis discarded in park

Cindy Hornung’s dog Karma became ill three times after eating discarded cannabis at Springwood Park in Parksville. (Submitted photo)

A Vancouver Island resident is fed up with her dog becoming ill after ingesting discarded cannabis joints at a local park.

Cindy Hornung loves to take her dog Karma to Springwood Park, in the central Island community of Parksville, but says she’s become paranoid because of the number of times her pet has become ill.

“All of a sudden she was weird like falling over, couldn’t stand up. Couldn’t hold her head up, tongue hanging out,” Hornung said.

She took Karma to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Nanaimo in October, which resulted in a $300 bill.

“They took one look at her and said, ‘she’s ingested marijuana,’” she said.

Earlier that day, one of her friends also brought their dog to the emergency vet — both animals had been at the park together.

“Mine’s just a young one and she eats everything in sight, as do a couple of the other ones,” Hornung said. “There’s a couple of us that are quite paranoid now.”

Dogs becoming ill after eating cannabis has been a problem for a long time, according to Dr. Heather Hagen, co-owner of Heritage Vet Service in Parksville.

Depending on how much the animal has eaten, veterinary treatment can range from the dog simply getting some rest, to administering fluids, all the way to a trip to the emergency vet hospital.

Hagen said lately she’s begun to recommend a fast-response drug test, in case the cannabis was laced with another substance – something that’s uncommon but has increased in recent years.

“My bigger concern is that often when I run that test, marijuana is not the only thing that comes up,” she said. “I’ve seen barbiturates, which is kind of weird. I’ve seen cocaine. So quite often that cannabis is actually contaminated or laced.”

Hagen added she does not know why it has become a problem, and it may be a result of better drug-testing capabilities. It’s hard to say if it’s actually more common for dogs to ingest contaminated weed, but it did happen prior to legalization, she said.

Hornung is frustrated because she moved into the neighbourhood specifically to walk the nearby trails and play with her dog at the park.

She wants to see the city ban smoking in the park, as well as install more lights.

Parksville does not have a bylaw prohibiting smoking in public spaces, according to the city. Springwood Park’s gates close at 10 p.m. and reopen at 8 a.m.

Hornung said people on foot can easily get past the gate after hours.

She’s also upset with people who park their vehicles and spend the day there, smoking cannabis and dumping their garbage in the park’s bin.

As of Nov. 2 one complaint has been received about the discarded cannabis butts, according to the city.

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