A dog owner is speaking out after her Beagle puppy ingested heroin and collapsed at a dog park in the South End neighborhood of Boston, CBS News reports.
Fynn was out on a walk with his pet parent, Nancy Rittenhouse, at Southwest Corridor Park on Nov. 7 when the incident occurred. The 7-month-old dog was sniffing the streets like any other curious puppy, only to get hold of a ripped bag that contained the narcotic.
As a result, some elected officials are now calling for the enaction of more robust policies to protect community members and their pets from the lethal substance. This is amidst growing concerns that the opioid is increasingly creeping onto the streets of Boston.
Dog lucky to be alive after accidental opioid overdose
Taking Fynn for walks at the popular, pet-friendly neighborhood park is something Rittenhouse often does. Last week, she and her Beagle puppy hit the streets as usual, oblivious to what lay ahead.
Rittenhouse recalled how her pooch’s sniffing spree suddenly turned into an emergency case.
“Fynn is always trying to go after food and picking stuff up,” she said. “And as I was pulling him away, I looked down and there was a ripped baggie.”
Rittenhouse quickly figured out the contents of the bag contained heroin. Unfortunately, it was too late. Within three minutes of her revelation, her Beagle had already collapsed.
As any responsible pet parent would, Rittenhouse rushed him to the emergency room. Once there, doctors furiously tried to revive the dog using Narcan — a life-saving medication that reverses the harmful effects of opioid overdose.
Thankfully, it worked.
Rittenhouse told CBS News that this was the fourth time Fynn had been exposed to potentially deadly substances while sniffing the streets of Boston. It’s a miracle he’s alive.
Residents on high alert after Beagle ingested heroin
The prevalence of lethal drugs on sidewalks and streets in Boston is worrying many residents of the South End neighborhood. Rittenhouse is one of them. “I don’t think we, as a community, need to accept that there’s heroin on the sidewalks as our kids and our dogs are walking past,” she said.
Illegal opioids like heroin are highly toxic to dogs and cats, alike. According to the Pets Poison Helpline, accidental ingestion of the drug can lead to severe poisoning and even death. The harmful effects kick in just moments after an animal ingests the opioid. That’s because the absorption of heroin in the system often happens rapidly. A canine given Narcan in time may survive.
Massachusetts State Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston) commented on the ordeal. The senator said, “We’re seeing the effects of a policy that allows for drug use in the open air.”
Moreover, he attributes the increasing incidents of opioid exposure in pets to the clearing of homeless tent encampments along Massachusetts and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Whether or not that’s a fair assessment in actuality, the senator asserts it is.
“With the interventions the city made [the other] week, folks who aren’t moving towards housing will be finding places out in the streets,” Collins said.
Sen. Collins also suggested that a significant number of patients discharged from hospitals without treatment — who are now living in parks — may further be contributing to the rise in opioid use on Boston streets. As such, he is urging the legislature to increase police patrols in the South End neighborhood. He claims this will help protect community resources.
Veterinarian issues word of advice to dog owners
Sarah Gorman, a veterinarian in Boston, also believes that the clearing of homeless encampments is worsening the exposure of pets to opioids and other drugs.
“It’s been an increasing problem, now that we’ve had a displacement of people from Mass and Cass,” she said. Commenting further, Gorman noted, “Where those drugs are hidden is where dogs are in the bushes, the mulch, the playground.”
According to Gorman, drug overdose is more common in puppies because “they are more curious, they’re exploring more things.” As a result, “so many of those things are inhaled.”
All in all, she emphasized the need for dog owners to keep an eye on their canines during walks. She urged residents to have their dogs on a leash at all times when walking them. Additionally, Gorman insisted that dog owners need to have an emergency plan ready in case a crisis strikes.