The following is a news story I penned for the local "gringo" news outlets after my neighbor lost her dog to poisoning. It's likely that the story wasn't printed for fear of reprisals from local Mexican businesses -- so I'm posting it here.
Jodie Singerman, 80, a longtime resident of Puerto Vallarta, adored her dog “Puppy,” a handsome, gentle mixed-breed hound she had rescued five years ago. But now Puppy is dead, a victim of poisoned meat he snapped up on Los Muertos Beach. Jodie is inconsolable.
On Dec. 15, as she did every day, Jodie loaded Puppy into her small sedan and drove down the hill from her Olas Altas condo to the beach behind the Tropicoco Restaurant. Puppy romped and ran for 20 minutes or so, briefly distracted by something he discovered buried in the sand under the footbridge, before making his way back to the car. He jumped into the back seat as Jodie made a short detour to Reiso’s Market to pick up some fresh dog bones. When she returned to the car, Puppy was already unconscious and convulsing on the floor of the back seat. By the time she got home, Puppy was in a full-blown seizure, foam pouring from his mouth. Jodie screamed for help and the neighbors came running. But it was too late. By the time they got to the vet, the dog was dead. It took no more than 20 minutes for the poison to kill him.
Jodie and Puppy were best friends. They shared meals together. They watched TV on the sofa together. At night he snuggled up with her in bed. Puppy was her life. “He was the sweetest dog,” she said through her tears. “He loved my cats. What am I going to do?”
Since Puppy’s death, there have been a rash of dog poisonings on Puerto Vallarta beaches. One early-morning jogger reported having seen three dogs in their death throes on the streets of Olas Altas. If the story is true, city workers likely wasted no time erasing the evidence before residents and tourists woke up to witness the carnage. In the meantime, locals have been warned to keep their animals leashed -- or suffer the consequences.
Stories have long circulated that restaurant and hotel owners have purposely planted poisoned meat just prior to the high season in an effort to rid the beaches of animal traffic and the feces they leave behind. At least one hotel has admitted to planting poisoned meat supposedly to curb the "rat" population. It's a convenient explanation for the practice -- after all, nobody like rats. But has anyone else noticed that the street dog population in the Romantic Zone in almost nil?
Proving intentions is difficult. But poisoned meat. Dead dogs. Those are the facts. Whether it's city policy, a business owner or just some sick individual who hates dogs, dog owners of Vallarta beware. Death is buried in the sand.