Richmond dog owners on alert after needle scare

The City of Richmond is hoping to calm residents’ fears after a report about tainted meat found in a local dog park spread across social media.

According to a memo obtained by the Richmond News, which was shared with BC SPCA, local vet clinics and Richmond RCMP, the city’s bylaw department received a call alleging a piece of meat was found containing needles at Woodwards Slough Dog Park, located at 9400 Dyke Road west of No. 4 Road.  

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dog park map
Location of Woodwards Slough dog park. Google Maps screenshot

Bylaws officers, who went out to the site after receiving the call, were unable to find the meat or substantiate the claim, said city spokesperson Clay Adams.

Earlier this month, there was a report of meat found containing sewing needles on Burnaby Mountain, according to an article published by Global News. A photo of the tainted meat was posted to social media.

And in May, the BC SPCA investigated a report of dog poisoning at Kitsilano Park in Vancouver, according to a CTV News report.  

While uncertain if the claim was legitimate, the city nonetheless notified the animal organizations and the Richmond RCMP about the report so that they could be alert to any suspicious items or activity in Richmond parks.

The city did not release a public warning due to the unsubstantiated nature of the report.

“We couldn’t substantiate it,” said Adams. “But we decided out of an abundance of caution and safety that we would simply give a heads-up to dog park users and to the veterinary clinics to be on the lookout for things like this.

“And also for vet clinics so they would know in case somebody came in with a dog with an ailment and they couldn’t quite understand what it may be.”

But the notice caused a storm of warnings and panic across social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter with multiple vet clinics stating that meat containing needles had been found in multiple Richmond parks, which Adams called “disconcerting” as the posts suggest the parks are unsafe or at risk.

“What we’re trying to say to people is just be alert, be diligent as a dog owner… But don’t panic or send multiple messages that this is found all over the place and it’s unsafe to use dog parks or dog trails,” said Adams.

Bylaws officers have visited Woodwards Slough Park as well as other parks in the area following the call, said Adams, but haven’t found anything of concern. 

“We’re looking around, but we’ve seen nothing that suggests people should be scared or worried. We just want people to be alert based on what we were led to believe,” said Adams.

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