British Columbia

Keep pets indoors, warn police, after 2 dogs die of poisoning in Trail, B.C.

RCMP believe the dogs, who lived next door to each other, were killed by the illegal use of strychnine, once used to destroy pests.

Police say they believe someone was likely trying to bait coyotes and wound up killing domestic dogs instead

Two dogs.
RCMP say Hank, left, and Sugar both appear to have been killed by the poison strychnine. (Submitted by Dena Wyna)

RCMP in Trail, B.C., are warning residents to keep their pets indoors after the poisoning deaths of two dogs.

Police say they were alerted to the deaths on Tuesday, though the dogs died Sunday and Monday, respectively.

They occurred in a rural neighbourhood in Trail, approximately 300 kilometres southeast of Kelowna.

In the first case, a family found their four-year-old golden retriever, Sugar, dead in the yard shortly after taking her for a walk.

The next day, police say a neighbouring border collie named Hank was seen eating a mysterious piece of meat in the yard. He went into convulsions and died within the next twenty minutes.

A boy pets a dog.
Dena Wyna says her son is devastated by the loss of the family dog. (Submitted by Dena Wyna)

Laboratory testing revealed the presence of the deadly pesticide strychnine in Hank's system, and police believe that is what killed Sugar, as well.

Sugar's owner, Dena Wyna, says her family is devastated by the loss of their beloved pet.

"My nine-year-old son absolutely loved her. He was traumatized, and very, very hurt," she said.

Police suspect illegal baiting

RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich says police believe someone in the area was likely trying to bait coyotes and wound up killing domestic dogs instead.

He says the practice used to be legal and it's likely some people in the area still have access to a supply of the poison.

"We don't believe that anyone, at this time, was trying to target family pets," he said.

Strychnine has in the past been used to control ground squirrels, primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

However, its use for this purpose has been banned by Health Canada as of March 4, 2023, though it is still used for predator control in Alberta.

In B.C., the use of poisons to kill predators without a permit is also illegal, but the SPCA warns it regularly shows up in the deaths of both wildlife and pets.

The Conservation Officer Service has been notified of the dogs' deaths, and RCMP are warning other pet owners to be vigilant while they investigate, recommending dogs be kept inside, leashed or fenced to avoid being poisoned.


  • This story originally stated that strychnine had been banned for predator control in Alberta and Saskatchewan. While Health Canada no longer allows it to be used to kill ground squirrels, its use on wolves, black bears and other predators is still allowed.
    Mar 29, 2023 3:56 PM PT

With files from Tom Popyk and Dana Kelly