A DOG owner has been left devastated by the death of her pet which never recovered from being poisoned by hemlock in Barton’s Long Meadow.
Janice Dennison had to have her 11-year-old shelpie called Kelsie put to sleep after her health deteriorated sharply in recent days.
A tearful Janice told the A&T: “I just thought I wasn’t being fair on her keeping her alive. She was in a bad way – I was practically force-feeding her towards the end and some days she was just really shaking all over.
“I am totally heartbroken, I loved her to bits.”
Kelsie became ill after paddling in the stream at the popular dog walking site in August. Several dog owners claimed their pets had also been struck down after eating hemlock – the most poisonous plant in the UK – that was allegedly left behind by council maintenance workers.
Vets told Mrs Dennison, from Barton, that they feared Kelsie would not survive after her kidneys were badly affected by the poison.
But she managed to pull through although her owner was left having to foot a £90 a month vet bill for tablets to keep her alive which was on top of the £1,200 cost of initial emergency treatment.
Mrs Dennison said: “At first she seemed to be okay but recently it was clear she was very ill. She lost lots of weight and I just thought I was being cruel not letting her go.
“It was a terrible decision to make and I miss her so much. I’m lucky she lived so long because originally the vet said she would not last the summer.”
Mrs Dennison reported the suspected poisoning to New Milton Town Council which owns the site, and New Forest District Council’s environmental health officer, but she has not heard from either authority.
She said: “I have grandchildren and it really worries me that kids love to play in the meadow. This stuff is lethal. “
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 deadliest part.
Town council chairman Cllr Geoffrey Blunden previously told the A&T that since the poison scare maintenance staff had been given extra training so that they could identify water hemlock and that if any had been misplaced about how to remove it.
Talking to the A&T, Cllr Blunden said he was very sad to hear the news about Kelsie saying: “I well understand the heartache and distress of losing a dog.
“I intend to discuss the situation with Mrs Dennison in further detail after Christmas, I have already spoken to her on the phone.
“We are intending to place a notice on the message board at Long Meadow highlighting all the dangerous plants that exist there and asking people to take care.
“We also recently cleared the streams and we put up notices at that time warning that animals should be kept under control at these times.
“A couple of weeks ago the stream was polluted by paint and the environmental agency came in and cleared it all up.
“We are taking any action about problems that come up concerning Long Meadow and will continue to do so.”