Aspen dog owner says pets weren’t dosed with marijuana edibles

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Some residents of North Spring Street in Aspen say they are still concerned that a neighbor might be trying to poison their pets.

In response to an Aspen Times article published Thursday, residents said there was no possible way that two dogs belonging to two separate pet owners with adjoining yards became sick by accidentally ingesting food made from marijuana at a Fourth of July party in the area.

A veterinarian in Basalt who treated the dogs Friday said it appeared as though the dogs became ill through an accidental dose of THC, not through a common poisonous substance such as antifreeze. She said she was not 100 percent certain, however, and noted in the article that the dog owners vehemently denied their pets had access to edibles.

First, there really wasn’t much of a party, just a small backyard gathering with food and drink, attended by “responsible adults” — and neither smokable nor edible marijuana was present, according to resident Nikki Hennings, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Times.

And Geoffrey Smith, one of the dog’s owners, said his 4-year-old dog Tucker got sick in the morning, well before the holiday get-together. He rushed Tucker to the Basalt emergency pet clinic at about noon as soon as the dog began showing unusual symptoms.

Tucker has recovered, Smith said.

“There was just no way that any pot edibles came from anyone that was living on or visiting the property that day,” he said. “And since my dog is confined by a fence, anything he got into would have to be brought onto the property in one way or another.”

An Aspen policeman investigated claims that a neighbor who has had previous issues with dog owners in the neighborhood, which is known as Oklahoma Flats, could have harmed the animals. There were no grounds for an arrest, according to a police spokeswoman.

Smith said he moved to the neighborhood about 18 months ago. Soon after, he said he learned of a longstanding neighborhood rift between those who rent houses along North Spring Street and a part-time homeowner who neighbors said has expressed disdain for canines.

“To everybody who lives in the neighborhood, the (poisoning) makes perfect sense, with all of the neighborhood drama that’s gone on over the years,” he said. “I have my own suspicions, but I can’t point fingers when we don’t know what the dog ate.”

Another resident with a golden retriever took his pet to the same clinic Friday afternoon, a few hours after Smith brought Tucker there. That dog also displayed signs of having eaten edible pot, according to the vet.

Smith said he supposes that the illnesses will remain “a mystery.” He said that because everyone along the street has read the newspaper story, he wanted to come forward as one of the dog owners.

“My main concern was that others on our road would attribute the message of the article to our own negligence and therefore not keep a closer watch on their own dogs, when it seems very likely that there is some sort of foul play at hand ­— despite the lack of evidence,” he said.

Regardless of the culprit behind the Fourth of July dog maladies in Oklahoma Flats, veterinarians across the state are reporting more cases of dogs getting sick from accidental access to edible marijuana. Large doses, especially in small dogs, can lead to a process involving seizure, coma and death.

Smith said it was possible, though unlikely, that a perpetrator somehow gave edible marijuana to the dogs when no one else was around or tossed them into the yard from a passing vehicle.

The dogs were not drug-tested, according to the veterinarian who spoke with the Times on Wednesday.