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Veterinarians report steady increase in pets ingesting cannabis

<i>NYPD/WCBS</i><br/>Three men allegedly threatened to shoot a little boy and stole tens of thousands of dollars from a Bronx family in a terrifying home invasion.
Three men allegedly threatened to shoot a little boy and stole tens of thousands of dollars from a Bronx family in a terrifying home invasion.

By Tim McNicholas

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — Taking your pet for a walk in the city used to be a simple chore, but not anymore; more pets are getting sick after eating products containing pot that have been dropped on the ground.

Dazzle, a 2-year-old Golden Doodle, helps her owner, Lola Star, sell t-shirts at her Staten Island clothing store. Dazzle isn’t shy, and she’s always on the hunt for a treat, but lately, she’s gone barking up the wrong tree.

“Her poor little head starts kind of bobbing around, and that’s when I know. I kinda look into her eyes and can see that she’s having an adverse reaction or she’s stoned after having eaten this joint that she found on the street,” Star said.

Star says it’s a problem they’ve encountered multiple times as they go for walks outside the store. At times, Dazzle’s gotten so sick she had to go to an animal hospital.

“I mean, I feel a lot of guilt that I didn’t catch it before she ate it, but it’s really, you cannot watch them. I’ll turn my head for a second and she’s eating something,” Star said.

Dazzle isn’t alone.

Veterinarians with the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York say they’ve seen a steady increase over the past few years in pets who’ve ingested cannabis — 138 cases in 2019 and 149 in 2020, then a 30% jump to 195 cases in 2021 and 197 in 2022.

“A big jump since 2021 when recreational marijuana was legalized in New York,” said Dr. Carly Fox, a senior veterinarian with the hospital and a dog owner herself. “I think really just because now it’s sort of commonplace to be walking down the streets in New York and see people smoking or smelling smoke, I think people are very casual when they dispose of marijuana cigarettes. Also, edibles are way more accessible now.”

Fox says dogs process THC differently than humans and ingesting it can make dogs to lose their balance, become incontinent or vomit. In severe cases, dogs might suffer seizures.

If you suspect your dog ate marijuana, you should bring the pet to a professional who can assess and monitor their condition.

The Pet Poison Helpline, which operates in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, says they’ve seen a 448% increase in marijuana cases over the past six years.

Experts say you should never leave edibles in a spot where your pet can eat them, and if you’re worried about discarded joints on the street, you might consider a basket muzzle.

“I hope people will take responsibility and discard their joints in a place where little dogs can’t get them,” Star said.

That way little Dazzle can stick to the right treats.

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