Who has been killing off the dogs in the Mexico City neighborhood of La Condesa?
That’s the question dog owners, authorities and animal rights organizations would like answered after being on high alert since late last month, when someone dubbed “The Dog Killer of La Condesa” began poisoning as many as 18 dogs.
Poisoned dog food was allegedly left among the bushes and trees of Parque México in La Condesa neighborhood, a popular spot for dog lovers in La Condesa and Roma.
Although reports vary on the number of fatalities, most occurred between September 29 and October 4. All the animals presented similar symptoms: vomiting, followed by convulsions and, eventually, fatal respiratory failure.
Many of the sick dogs were taken to the the pet hospital Animalia, where veterinarian Berenice Nimodio declared that the animals had probably ingested a substance known as zinc fluoride.
To confirm, some bodies were frozen and sent to the National Autonomous University where further toxicology exams will be performed, in the hopes of determining what the substance was.
At least nine complaints have been filed in the borough of Cuauhtémoc, and the city’s prosecutor has launched an investigation. Surveillance camera footage from around the park hasn’t revealed any suspicious behavior.
In the absence of arrests or further developments in the investigation, the animal rights organization PETA has announced a reward of US $5,000 for any information that contributes to the identification and arrest of the dog killer.
The situation remains tense in the park, even after cleaning crews were sent by borough officials to use pressure washing to clean up any residual poison. Dog owners, for their part, continue to walk their dogs, but with caution.
Neighbors and authorities have posted signs warning of what is still believed to be a high-risk situation. Some dog owners have symbolically cordoned off areas of the park with bright yellow or orange civil protection tape.
Frequent users of Parque México have seen poisoned or contaminated dog food before. According to Guillermo Islas, an artist who has sold his work there for 30 years, the act could be a response to the “many dog owners who are hated because they don’t pick up their dogs’ feces.”
The crime of animal abuse is punishable under Mexico City laws with up to two years in jail, and up to four years if the abuse results in the animal’s death.