Owner’s huge vets bill after dog ate hemlock cuttings at park

Janice Dennison at home with pet dog Kelsie

A DOG which was caught up in a hemlock poisoning scare has now been left on tablets for life which are costing her owner £90 a month.


The A&T revealed in September how several dogs became seriously ill after apparently eating cuttings of the plant left behind after maintenance work at Long Meadow in Barton.

Janice Dennison’s pet Kelsie nearly died after being taken a walk there in August and going for a paddle in the stream where the hemlock grows on the bank.

After becoming ill shortly after, the 11-year-old shelpie had to be rushed to a vets where blood tests revealed she was full of toxins.

Mrs Dennison said: “The vet told me that he did not think Kelsie was going to make it. She was very ill but I begged them to give her every chance.”

Tests showed high levels of toxins and Kelsie had to undergo four flushes a day to help cleanse her system. Her life was saved but her kidney function has been badly affected meaning she will have to be on medicine for the rest of her life.

She lost 2kgs and also suffers high blood pressure which, the vet warned, could lead to her becoming blind.

Mrs Dennison, who lives in Barton, said: “I spent £1,200 for the immediate vet treatment and the pills cost £90 per month.

“Kelsie still hasn’t recovered really. She was a really happy dog who loved going for walks but now she just sits in the corner looking really sorry for herself.”

Mrs Dennison reported the suspected poisoning to New Milton Town Council, and New Forest District Council’s environmental health officer.

She said: “I ring one and they tell me to ring another but no one ever gives me any answers, they promise to ring back but don’t.

“I just want to know if tests have been made on the stream to see if it has toxins in it. Kids love going in it. I just want answers as to what, if anything, has been done to investigate these incidents.

“I also want to warn other dog owners, I don’t want anyone to go through what I have.”

Sally Keats’ dog Oakley nearly died after chomping on a root of the plant which he found on the ground while she was taking him for a walk.

Her friend Pam Smith’s pet Pickle also became ill from eating the hemlock at the same time, but luckily had not ingested as much as nine-year-old Oakley.

Other dog owners also complained on social media about their pets being poisoned in the meadow by the plant – the root of which is the most deadly part.

Cllr Geoffrey Blunden, chairman of New Milton Town Council, told the A&T action had been taken since the poison scare happened.

He said: “We have given extra training to our staff so that they can readily identify water hemlock. Also on our regular inspections at this site, if roots of water hemlock have been displaced, we will take action to remove them.

“Environmental health officers also tested the water in the stream but did not find any evidence of poison in it.”

Hemlock is the most poisonous plant in the UK with the root being the most lethal. Cllr Blunden said the problem with putting up warning signs about the hemlock was that there were “hundreds” of other poisonous plants that could be in the meadow.

He said: “Dog owners have to be aware of the dangers and make sure they watch their dogs so they don’t pick up plants and things to eat.

“When we are carrying out routine maintenance there we will be putting up warning signs as plants can be dislodged during the time which can make them a danger until they are cleared away.”

But the councillor added that he was “very sympathetic” any dog owners who believed their pet may have been made ill by the hemlock and will be contacting Mrs Dennison shortly.